The CSIRO Innovation Fund, operated by Main Sequence Ventures, invests in translating publicly funded Australian research into extraordinary global companies. Founded with $100 million from CSIRO and the Australian Government, the Fund has now grown to $240 million following a successful capital raise in 2018.
Since it commenced in September 2017, the Fund has invested in 25 companies across priority areas of feeding 10 billion people, humanity scaled healthcare, exponential machines, space and transport, and new societies.
The Fund has helped to create more than 400 deep technology jobs across the Main Sequence Ventures portfolio of companies.
Coviu is a cloud-based video consultation platform that removes the need for physical presence during practitioner-patient consultations. Coviu was co‑founded in 2015 by Silvia Pfeiffer and Nathan Oehlman. In 2016, the team participated in the ON Accelerate program and in 2018, raised $1 million from CSIRO Innovation Fund. The investment allowed them to scale and further embed themselves into the primary healthcare space. Read more at: Coviu: putting remote medical access in good health.
Emesent was spun out of CSIRO by scientists Dr Stefan Hrabar and Dr Farid Kendoul in 2018 to commercialise their data collection and drone autonomy, Hovermap. Hovermap automates the collection and analysis of data in challenging, inaccessible environments. Its strongest use is in underground mining where it keeps surveyors safe and away from hazardous areas. After completing our ON Accelerate program, they raised $4.5 million in a funding round led by Main Sequence Ventures.
In less than 18 months, Emesent has grown from a start-up to a mid-sized business; they employ nearly 40 staff and have produced more than 100 Hovermap units.
Hovermap is used at over 60 mine sites around the world, and over 3,000 autonomous flights have been performed. BHP’s Olympic Dam site in South Australia was Emesent’s first mining customer in Australia, with Anglo American, Newmont, Glencore and Newcrest also on the books. In May, the LKAB‑owned mine in Kiruna, Sweden, suffered a severe earthquake. Hovermap was used to map the seismic-hit area and assess the extent of the damage, and support decision-making on safely re-entering the mine. Read more at: Using robotics to improve safety in complex environments.
Delivering on the promise of alternative protein foods
Global population growth requires additional food sources to be developed to complement existing sources of food production. There is also a growing demand for protein products that are produced more sustainably. While plant-based protein alternatives have been available for some time, most are dissimilar substitutes for meat products without the same sensory properties.
Main Sequence Ventures partnered with Competitive Foods Australia and CSIRO to create a new meat alternative company, v2food.
Underpinned by decades of sensory research into food, our leading food research scientists at the CSIRO Food Innovation Centre developed a new line of products with the appearance, texture, smell and taste of meat-based products.
Known as sculptured food, our scientists developed a commercially ready product in only eight months. The products mimic the fibrous and cartilaginous texture of meat, and were produced from legumes, plant fibre, and sunflower and coconut oils.
In October, the v2food product launched and was sold in Hungry Jack’s stores in Australia, and in Burger King in New Zealand. Further products have been launched into other food outlets through ingredients delivery company, Marley Spoon, and products will continue to roll out across supermarkets and food service outlets in 2020–21.
As part of the development, we conducted a nutritional analysis and lifecycle assessment to evaluate the full production pathway for plant-based alternative protein foods. We are now working with v2food to access local growers to secure a domestic supply chain for future products, to realise the economic and environmental benefits of alternative protein foods.
In December, v2food secured $35 million in Series A venture capital funding led by Main Sequence Ventures for international and domestic investors to fund further opportunities.
CSIRO’s Growth opportunities for Australian food and agribusiness report in 2019 found that Australian alternative protein-derived foods could see revenue from domestic and export sales reach $6.6 billion by 2030, highlighting the economic size of the opportunity. Additionally, alternative proteins could add $5.4 billion in carbon emission and water savings compared to traditional sources.