Former ARA Infrastructure boss and ex-trade official Grant Dooley has been appointed to lead Victoria’s $2 billion fund, which will provide cash to local companies for R&D development and commercialisation over the next decade.
Mr Dooley, who most recently headed ARA Infrastructure in Singapore, has been named as the inaugural chief executive of Breakthrough Victoria, and will oversee the deployment of its $2 billion fund.
Mr Dooley has experience in managing public and private funds across the Asia-Pacific, and is also a former trade official for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade who spent two years as the Australian Consul General in Guangzhou, China, from 2010.
“Grant Dooley brings a wealth of international investment experience to his new role – his skills will provide a huge boost to our research and development sector and the world leading experts working in it,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.
“This is about harnessing our local talent – backing it with the investment it needs to turn bright ideas into long-term business opportunities and jobs for Victorians into the future.”
Mr Dooley, who started in the job this week, will work with Breakthrough Victoria’s chair and former Victorian Premier John Brumby, who oversaw his recruitment.
“I look forward to heading up the Breakthrough Victoria team and working with researchers, founders, businesses and government to create more jobs for Victorians into the future,” Mr Dooley said in a statement.
Former Federation Square chief executive Xavier Csar had been serving as interim CEO while the recruitment was ongoing.
The government announced the $2 billion fund in last year’s state budget, and created a new company and board for it in March this year.
The fund will deploy a range of grants, repayable loans, equity and joint ventures, and will partner with private investors, superannuation funds, venture capital and the federal government.
It will be focusing on the state’s key industry sectors, including health and life sciences, agri-food, advanced manufacturing, clean economy and digital technologies.
Mr Brumby has said he thinks the new fund will lead to a “quantum shift” for Victoria.
The state is also in the process of launching two other significant funds.
These are the $61 million Victorian Startup Capital Fund, which will invest in early-stage startups over three years, and the $25 million Venture Growth Fund, which will co-invest into a venture debt facility with the private sector.
The Victorian government also announced a $50 million fund for low-interest loans for eligible companies accessing the federal research and development tax incentive scheme in this year’s state budget.
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