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Help for early stage innovators gets the tick



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Monday, 6 June 2011

HELP FOR EARLY STAGE INNOVATORS GETS THE TICK

Since its inception in 1998, the Innovation Investment Fund (IIF) has licensed 13 new venture capital innovation funds that have helped 99 Australian businesses commercialise original research.

To date the IIF program has committed a pool of $524 million of government and private capital to invest in promising early-stage companies. Yesterday, the program received a tick from internationally respected econometricians Professor Gordon Murray and Professor Marc Cowling who were commissioned to analyse the program.

Welcoming the report on the program, Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr said the IIF — the Australian Government’s main venture capital equity program — had been instrumental in creating opportunities for innovators to commercialise their good ideas.

“Having a program that is able to accept some of the risks of early stage innovation is essential for any national innovation system,” Senator Carr said.

“The report has shown us that the program is effectively supporting start-up ventures in Australia, contributing significantly to our economy and improving the lives of Australians through job creation and commercialisation of vital products such as Bronchitol, which treats cystic fibrosis.

“Bronchitol is a product of Pharmaxis Ltd and would not have been available to cystic fibrosis sufferers without support from the IIF program.”

Senator Carr said venture capital has been a major driver of growth in high technology firms, contributing significantly to international productivity in countries like the USA over decades.

“Most countries now support co-investment type funds similar to those that were established in Australia in the late 1990s,” Senator Carr said.

The report, titled An Independent Econometric Analysis of the 'Innovation Investment Fund' Programme (IIF) of the Australian Commonwealth Government: Findings and Implications, will inform the development of future options for support of venture capital

in Australia. The report can be accessed at www.innovation.gov.au.

“Long term government support for the venture capital industry is required to strengthen our national innovation system and in turn improve Australia’s productivity,” Senator Carr said.

Media contacts: Sheena Ireland, Minister's Office, 0457 989 842 Tom Honeyman, Department, 02 6213 6851 or 0418 406 158