SA policy to retain local tech firms

James Riley
Editorial Director

South Australian AI-based medical imaging startup Presagen has completed a $4.5 million funding raise, enabling the company to take its technology designed to help identify healthy embryos for in-vitro fertilisation to the world.

The funding round included $1.5 million from the South Australian government.

The firm, which is based at Adelaide’s new startup hub Lot Fourteen, was handed a share of the state government’s $28 million research, commercialisation and startup fund to commercialise its Life Whisperer product.

Dr Michelle Perugini: The SA Government fund helped to keep the company onshore

Minister for Innovation David Pisoni said the fund supports R&D capability in South Australia, advances scientific research and helps entrepreneurs take their innovative products into global markets.

“Successful companies will refund the government investment and keep their intellectual property in South Australia,” he said.

The $1.5 million completes the company’s $4.5 million seed investment round. The other $3 million raised was from Australian investment group Jungle Capital Group and a US-based investment firm 3Lines Venture Capital.

The money will be used to support product development, regulatory approvals, sales and expansion to international markets.

Presagen chief executive Dr Michelle Perugini said the RCSF funding was a vote of confidence from the Marshall Liberal Government in the medical devices industry.

“There is a recognition from the government that their funding support will help to mobilise more private investment for new innovative companies such as Presagen in the medical device and artificial intelligence industry, allowing these companies to grow,” she said.

Ms Perugini’s husband and co-founder Don Perugini wrote recently in Medium about how about how the husband-and-wife team – together with a third co-founder Jonathan Hall – shared a view that the South Australian model for investment matching should be replicated at a national level, to build a strong local commercial framework and to keep technology innovations and talent in-country.

“Comparable to other developed markets, Australia has limited funding and a conservative nature towards investing in early stage high risk ventures including deep tech start-ups,” he wrote.

“Ultimately, this means much of Australia’s advanced and world leading technology will never make it out of the Universities, or will be commercialized outside of Australia, by other countries that are willing and able to fund them.

“Presagen and our team faced this challenge last year when we sought to raise funding in Australia. We had significant interest from US and Chinese investors and faced the prospect of having to move our company to the US or China in order to raise capital.

“Without local capital to fund Presagen, we would have taken this step to ensure the success of our company.

“The South Australian Government RCSF provided substantive funding to allow Presagen to stay in South Australia.

“This funding encouraged global investment into Australia and has allowed us to keep the intellectual capital and highly-skilled jobs right here in South Australia.”

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