Business elite including Ben Gray, Leigh Clifford and Allan Myers are backing the new Tanarra, Melbourne University fund Tin Alley
Mr. Speaking to The Australian Financial Review, Wylie said the first closure was a “fantastic endorsement” of the commercialization potential of the university.
“Increased investment in intellectual property commercialization from Australian universities is one of the most important economic opportunities for Australia in the next 25 years,” he said.
“We are delighted with the market response. This is a first time fund, and a concept fund, so the fact that we received such a strong response speaks volumes [volumes].”
In January, Tin Alley appointed Andrew McLean as managing partner of the fund.
Mr McLean was part of the founding team behind Oxford University’s successful commercialization fund Oxford Sciences Enterprises, where he was head of life sciences.
He has been instrumental in some of the fund’s most successful investments and exits, including NASDAQ-listed Vaccitech (co-creator of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine) and MiroBio, which was acquired by Gilead Sciences for $US405 million in August last year.
Mr Wylie said he believed Oxford was one of the top universities worldwide for commercializing IP created within the uni, with other leaders including US institutions Stanford and MIT.
“To take the American West Coast, there is a self-reinforcing triangle between the universities like Stanford and companies like Google in Palo Alto, and the VC industry. Australia still has a considerable way to go to develop this,” he said.
Mr Wylie previously invested in nine deals with Oxford Science Enterprises fund.
After closing its first tranche of capital, the initial focus for Tin Alley will be to conduct due diligence on 26 companies in which the University of Melbourne already has an equity stake.
The new fund has options to acquire those interests.
Companies in this group include at-home epilepsy diagnosis and monitoring technology company Seer, tumor treatment biotech Axelia Oncology, brain implant biotech Synchron, and weed control agritech company Growave.
“Historically, Melbourne Uni’s strengths have been in life sciences, biotechnology and medical technology, so there is a strong emphasis on those themes, but over time we think there will be a greater showing of companies with IP in quantum computing, AI and more deep technology generally,” said Mr Wylie.
This view was echoed by University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell.
“The Tin Alley Ventures fund will create significant new entrepreneurial opportunities for our world-class researchers, students and alumni, as well as the medical research institutes and hospitals affiliated with the University of Melbourne,” he said.
Tanarra, Mr. Wylie’s investment firm, has made 27 VC investments worldwide in areas such as genomics, AI, digital healthcare, renewable energy and robotics.
He said he was treating 2023 with “cautious optimism” after the market correction in 2022.
“There are reasons for profound optimism in the long term,” he said.
“While there are headwinds for the global economy, it is also the case that we are right in the middle of a technological revolution that will bring many good things to the world.”