The $65 billion First State Super has invested $110 million into the Australian venture capital manager Blackbird Ventures, in one of the largest mandates for the local venture industry that has struggled to compete with offshore industries – especially in Silicon Valley.
First State Super CIO, Richard Brandweiner, said last week: ‘We are pleased to be the lead investor in Blackbird’s latest capital raising initiative that will see $200 million injected into the local tech market. Blackbird is fostering the development of a critical sector, and it is important to us to help keep ideas and talent in Australia while seeking to deliver strong returns for our members.”
Blackbird Ventures co-founder Rick Baker said: ‘The founding principle of Blackbird was centred on the notion of ‘founders helping founders’. Many of our investors are successful technology founders who, as well as providing their capital, provide advice and networks to the companies we back… But the game changed for us when First State Super stepped-up to increase our capacity.”
Blackbird restricts its investment to about 10 start-ups per year. It looks to back technology founders who strive to be the best in the world, not just the best in Australia, Baker said.
Brandweiner noted that a report this year by the Australian Trade Commission cited information media and telecommunications as having the highest average annual growth rate since 1992.
“This is even higher than financial and insurance services, and professional, scientific and technical services,” he said. “The Trade Commission also acknowledges the vast investment opportunities that are yet to be exploited in what is an expanding, multi-faceted digital economy and we believe that this will provide strong returns to both our members and the Australian economy.”
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