According to The Australian Financial Review today, New Zealander Stephen Hampson thinks Australian universities need help commercialising their ideas, so he's bringing his company Powerhouse Ventures here to assist.
Mr Hampson said the biggest problem is universities do not have sufficient funding to take their intellectual property from the basic idea to a point where it can be sold.
"The issue that universities and researchers face is that you have to find the capital and expertise to commercialise an idea," he said.
"Powerhouse provides that access to capital and the expertise in terms of working out the business plan in the early stages."
Since beginning investing in 2010, Powerhouse has helped establish 19 New Zealand companies, with its most successful business, Hydroworks, turning over between $10 million and $20 million, with a 50 per cent growth rate year-on-year.
Mr Hampson said the business needed to raise the extra capital to keep funding the companies in its portfolio. It plans to raise $20 million ahead of an ASX listing as part of its expansion into Australia.
Powerhouse is already listed in New Zealand where it is worth $24 million.
"We need to access capital to be able to keep investing in these ventures as they grow, and also to invest in new ventures created here in Australia and in New Zealand," he said.
"We've spent quite a lot of time in the past few months talking to Australian universities and there are quite a lot of opportunities we're looking at."
Powerhouse has stakes of 25 per cent and 40 per cent in each of the 19 companies and a modest initial investment is usually around $500,000, up to $1 million, but this limit is about to be increased to $3 million.
But in addition to providing capital, Powerhouse also sets up the company with a strong management team and provides it with the necessary connections to start growing the company and building a customer base.
Other businesses Powerhouse has commercialised are focused around four main industries – cleantech and engineering, ICT, agritech and medical and healthcare technology.
Mr Hampson said that since 2010 it had generated an internal rate of return on its investment portfolio of 30 per cent each year.
"With the right support, guidance and well-timed investment, these ideas can be grown to achieve significant commercial success," he said.
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