After announcing a Series B round last January, the Sydney-based biotech startup Inventory received an additional A$4.4 million ($3.2 million) from the Australian pension fund giant HESTA. This latest investment brings Inventia’s total funding to over A$50 million ($36 million), making it the country’s best-funded bioprinting startup.
According to a statement from co-founder and CEO Julio Ribeiro, the company will use the money to drive commercialization of its award-winning Rastrum 3D bioprinter and continued expansion in the US market. Additionally, Ribeiro said the investment could spur other super funds to enter Australia’s growing and burgeoning startup scene.
The country is home to highly innovative startups in the 3D printing space, such as health newcomer 3D One Australia, a developer of radiation oncology materials and applicators; Titomica company that uses cold spray to 3D print, or a metal additive manufacturing company based in Melbourne SPEE3D. However, even though the country has several startups working at the heart of the modern private space industry and paving the way for large-scale manufacturing for the defense sector, there are very few bioprinting startups. .
Most of Australia’s advances in bioprinting technologies have come from researchers at universities, institutes and teaching hospitals. Specifically, the University of New South Wales, University of Melbourne, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Queensland University of Technologyand mainly Australia University of Wollongong, led by world-renowned bioprinting expert Gordon Wallace. Thus, Inventia has the upper hand when it comes to bioprinting startups nationwide. Unfortunately, other promising companies like Sonic Regen or Melbourne-based MyoFab have gone out of business in the past couple of years.
The pink bio-printer
When it comes to designing bioprinters for cancer research, Inventia says it knows how to do it well. Its flagship Rastrum system is the result of years of research and is built around digital bio-printing technology for rapid, scalable and repeatable printing of 3D cellular constructs. When Ribeiro, along with co-founders Aidan O’Mahoney, Cameron Ferris and Philippe Perzi, started the company in 2013, they expected their creation to eliminate the need for time-consuming manual labor for medical lab workers. Instead, the resulting machine provides a faster way to recreate tumor models.
Through a combination of speed and precision, Rastrum can produce cell models in hours that could not be created otherwise. More importantly, Ribeiro told 3DPrint.com during a 2020 interview that the device “is gentle and uses fewer cells than other 3D cell model approaches, which is beneficial when manipulating valuable cells. derived from patients or sensitive neural cells”.
So far the pink printer has won one of Australia’s biggest design awards, the prestigious 2019 Good Design of the Year Awardand has been used in a wide range of research areas by Inventia customers and collaborators, particularly in immuno-oncology cancer research on solid tumors by examining the interaction of immune cells with cancer cells, as well as for drug screening to study the interaction between drugs and cells.
This latest HESTA investment is part of a successful Series B fundraising led by Blackbird Ventures with a significant reinvestment of Skip the capital, which raised A$35 million ($25.2 million). Additionally, this is the first direct investment made by a super fund and is expected to spur job creation and economic growth. In fact, funding from previous rounds of Inventia has already helped the company grow its team from 36 employees to more than 50. But the ultimate business plan is to increase its workforce to 150 by the end. by 2024 and to strengthen its presence in the United States, where the biomedical research and drug discovery markets are currently estimated at more than $40 billion. With the arrival of new funding, all this could be possible sooner than expected.
Commenting on the deal, HESTA Chief Investment Officer Sonya Sawtell-Rickson said the superannuation fund is “pleased to invest in Inventia as part of our broader goal of identifying investment opportunities in health technologies and innovation”. Through this partnership with Inventia, our members are invested in a company developing breakthrough bioprinting technology, enabling life-changing biomedical research and therapies. Investments like this support innovative startups at an early stage of their growth, which can generate strong returns for members while having a positive impact on the world in which they will retire.
Australian pension funds, like HESTA, have a great opportunity to invest in local businesses, helping the economy to thrive. According to the last Intergenerational report, Australia’s pension system is expected to be worth $34 trillion by 2061, making it the world’s fourth-largest pension system with assets that consistently perform strongly. So there is an incredible ability to take advantage of opportunities that local funds could not otherwise exploit.
Through the Inventia-HESTA partnership, not only will Inventia be able to scale its team, provide more bioprinting products and expand its global reach, but it will also leave the door open for other super funds to engage with them. and Australian healthcare startups. in general.
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