Mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest has backed new biotech venture capital group Tenmile to the tune of $250 million in a move that he hopes will fast-track the development of ‘life-changing’ health technology.
Tattarang, the private investment company founded by Forrest and his wife Nicola, has declared the placement as an initial investment in Tenmile which is being led by Steve Burnell, a former executive of biotech giant Roche Group with an extensive career in the technology and healthcare sectors including experience in mergers and acquisitions.
Tenmile has a number of key investments in its portfolio including the listed Emyria (ASX: EMD), which produces synthetic CBD-based products. The Forrests made a separate $5 million investment in Emyira in November last year through Tatterang, taking a 7.3 per cent interest in the company.
Tenmile’s key focus is to invest in products and solutions that it says will address unmet medical needs and support sustainable and equitable healthcare.
The firm sets itself apart from other Australian venture capital funds through a dedicated focus on providing seed capital for health technologies and through a business model that Andrew Forrest believes can 'act fast and with confidence’ without the restraints imposed by investors and lenders.
“Our laser-focused approach means we can help early-stage companies, researchers and entrepreneurs tap into seed funding to help them when they need it most, and then provide follow-on support, which is often unavailable through government or public sector funds,” Forrest says.
“Tenmile will help Australian researchers and Australian companies, through our extensive knowledge, global networks and dedicated capital to deliver life-changing products and medical treatments in a way that this country has not seen before.”
Nicola Forrest also points to Tenmile’s commitment to ethical and sustainable health treatments and technology.
“Tenmile is another demonstration of our focus in using capital as a force for good and will apply Tattarang’s responsible investment framework, including backing female founded and led health businesses,” she says.
The Perth-based Tenmile has teams in Sydney and San Francisco, where it has partnered with US-based Rock Health, a venture fund that invests in digital health.
“Although Tenmile is focused on opportunities in Australia and on building the broader health sciences commercialisation ecosystem here, we will continue to invest and partner in international markets both for the returns and to support our Australian investees to access markets and capital internationally,” says Burnell, the executive chairman of Tenmile.
“Health technology for us encompasses areas as diverse as medical devices, diagnostics, biotech, pharmaceuticals, and even healthcare services. We are particularly excited about emerging opportunities in immunology, oncology, digital health, the microbiome and microbial resistance.”
Among Tenmile’s investments is Adelaide-based pre-clinical immunotherapy company Carina Biotech, which is researching and developing chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapies to combat cancer.
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