Salus Ventures: the new $40m fund looking to invest in sovereign capabilities

Salus Ventures: the new $40m fund looking to invest in sovereign capabilities

(L-R): Salus Ventures co-founders Marten Peck, Dan Bennett and managing director Mike Ferrari (Provided).

A new $40 million Sydney-based venture capital firm has hired former Salesforce Ventures boss Mike Ferrari as it looks to become one of Australia’s first dedicated firms committed to investing in startups developing sovereign capabilities.

Salus Ventures’ founding team comprises OurCrowd managing partner and Safewill co-founder Dan Bennett, as well as veteran investor Marten Peck, who has spent almost two decades at peckvonhartel – a Melbourne-based architecture and interior design firm that has worked on projects such as Sydney Metro and Parramatta Square.

The VC has already secured $25 million over an eight-week fund raise in late 2022, and will invest in startups tackling fields such as robotics, defence and advanced manufacturing, tipping up to $1.5 million in initial rounds.

“In today’s dynamic geo-strategic environment, it’s becoming increasingly clear there is a growing need for nations to create sovereign capabilities to safeguard their independent strategic autonomy,” Bennett says. 

“Rooted in our unique combination of experience, our strength at Salus Ventures is identifying and supporting Australian founders who aspire to solve critically important national challenges through novel innovations in the areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning, cybersecurity and enterprise software, automation and advanced manufacturing, defence and aerospace, public wellness, and other emerging technologies.”

After spending more than a year at US software giant Salesforce, Ferrari parted ways with the company last month after it axed 10 per cent of its workforce – around 8,000 people, including the entirety of its Australian venture capital arm.

Prior to Salesforce, Ferrari spent more than five years co-leading the Sydney office of In-Q-Tel – a CIA venture capital arm focused on investing in enterprise infrastructure, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and emerging platforms such as drones, space, robotics, autonomy and virtual reality.

Before entering the world of venture capital, he was a technology-focused investment banker for Goldman Sachs in San Francisco, and also served as an aviator and senior mission leader in the United States Marine Corps for more than 12 years.

Ferrari adds that aside from capital, Salus offers an unmatched range of expertise to unlock value for its portfolio of companies.

“While our primary job at Salus is to generate attractive returns for the investors who have entrusted us with their capital, for me personally it is really exciting to be able to do that while also returning to the mission of helping the best technologies to make their way into the hands of end-users in critical roles," Ferrari says.

With decades of combined experience, the founders have backed the likes of Advanced Navigation, EFTPOS solution Tyro Payments (ASX: TYR) and property management company :Different throughout their careers.

“Our deep networks and understanding of industry and government will assist and direct our portfolio companies to opportunities both in Australia and around the world. Specifically, we’ll be backing founders and critical technologies with the potential for dual-use application,” Peck says.

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