Getting innovation from lab to market is not an easy feat, and few countries do it well. Australia’s research output, for instance, punches way above its commercial applications (e.g. #10 in the SJR ranking and Nature Index).
Are there ways to accelerate that transformation? Australia set up Main Sequence Ventures (@mseqvc) as a AU$240M (about US$170M) deep tech fund backed by the CSIRO and private investors, to target that opportunity notably in domains such as ag-tech, synthetic biology, quantum and space (the CSIRO is the Australia’s federal government agency responsible for scientific research).
This podcast is hosted by Benjamin Joffe, Partner at SOSV, a global early stage fund focused on deep tech. SOSV runs multiple accelerator programs including HAX (intelligent hardware) and IndieBio (life sciences). To hear about new episodes, sign up to the newsletter or follow us on twitter at @LabToMarket.
In this episode, Phil Morle (@philmorle), partner and long-time pioneer of the country’s startup scene (wikipedia), explains the commonalities he found between entrepreneurs and scientists, how the fund extended its investment domains and helps compress development timelines.
He closes with thoughts on the tough year it has been with fires, drought and Covid, and how returns and impact now go hand in hand, from responding to new threats, feeding the planet, to delivering healthcare at scale.
Before Main Sequence Ventures, Phil had three lives:
- He spent a decade as a theatre director, learning how to create things from scratch.
- Another decade with startups including as CTO of Kazaa — the then-dominant P2P file-sharing service,
- And another as the founder of Australia’s first Silicon Valley-style startup incubator, called Pollenizer, where he also advised numerous organizations including the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) on setting up their own incubators.
- He was then tapped by the CSIRO to set up a fund to support the translation of Australian research into commercial applications, including the output of CSIRO’s 3,500 scientists.
Among the lessons learned:
- How he got scientists to grow an entrepreneurial mindset.
- How to look for early proof points for the whole company.
- How spending too long in the science exclusively sends weak signals into the market.
- How deal creation is more valuable than mere deal assessment and de-risking.
- How they designed a plant-based meat company, assembled a team, and got a product to market in 9 months only.
- How bridge-building between scientific domains, business expertise and geographies is crucial to startup success.
- How Covid-19 has lit a fire in the innovation ecosystem.
- Habib Haddad and Calvin Chin (E14 Fund of MIT Media Lab) on Funding Science Fiction That Works
- Robert Gallenberger (btov Partners) on How to Select Industrial Partners
- Xavier Duportet (Eligo Bioscience & Hello Tomorrow) on Science Entrepreneurship
- Deep Tech Startups vs. Covid-19, with IndieBio, Khosla Ventures and 50 Years
- Eric Rosenblum (Tsingyuan Ventures) on Chinese Founders in the US
- Overview of Deep Tech Investment, Based on the Report by Different
- Sota Nagano (Abies Ventures) on Japan’s Deep Tech Scene
- Seth Bannon (Fifty Years) on Solving Global Problems
- Kelly Chen (DCVC) on Investing in Old School Industries
- Manish Singhal (pi Ventures) on India’s Deep Tech Scene
- John Ho (Anzu Partners) on Breakthrough Industrial Tech
- Matt Clifford (EF / Entrepreneur First) on Investing in Talent and Pre-Product
RESOURCES ON DEEP TECH
- DeepTech Investing Report by Different
- The Dawn of the Deep Tech Ecosystem by Hello Tomorrow and BCG
- Deep Tech Investors Mapping by Hello Tomorrow
- Deep Tech Trends Report, Hardware Trends Reports and Hardware Investment Outlook by SOSV