LaunchVic, the Victorian Government’s startup development agency, has announced its eighth round of funding grants will be focused on healthtech.
It is seeking to invest in accelerator programs that work with startups in medtech, biotech, pharma, health & ageing services and disability services, with up to $1 million available per application.
Health startup education programs for founders and investors can also apply for funding up to $250,000.
LaunchVic research into Victorian startups found that one in five are in health, wellbeing or sports and that they attract more venture capital funds than other those in other sectors.
However, the State of HealthTech – Victoria report also found 57 per cent of health startups do not know where to go to access the support needed to grow, and another 42 per cent do not know how to identify or locate investors.
“The overwhelming evidence found that Victoria should position itself internationally as a health orientated startup ecosystem. Contributing $30 billion each year to the State’s economy, health is the largest and fastest growing source of employment,” said Dr Kate Cornick, CEO of LaunchVic.
“Victoria has all of the ingredients necessary to become an internationally-competitive hub for health and wellbeing startups. Victoria is already renowned for its formidable strengths in health research, and a strong medtech, biotech and pharmaceutical industry with strong export potential,” she added.
Victoria’s health sector contributes $30 billion each year to the state and is the largest and fastest growing source of employment. Around 12 per cent of Victorians are employed in the health sector, according to Department of Health & Human Services figures.
The state has produced a number of successful ‘scale-ups’, among them 13 health related companies which have listed on the ASX over the last five years. As of March they had a combined market cap of $7.1 billion.
Applications for LaunchVic healthtech funding close in July. A preference will be given to accelerators that are led by or partnered with Victorian hospitals.
The announcement comes at a time of heightened interest from governments in improving health outcomes with technology. It is a crunch time for the national health system, with Australia’s annual health expenditure passing $170 billion – more than 10 per cent of GDP and rising.
Last month the Federal Government backed a Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) which will invest more than $200 million to develop and test digital health solutions.
The New South Wales Government offers up to $8m to help companies develop and commercialise medical devices, including ‘omics’ technologies, apps, virtual technologies, remote diagnostics and nanotechnologies. The Medical Devices Fund has run since 2013.
“Victoria is a leader in innovation and a leader in medtech and pharma – we want to combine these to create new companies and medical technologies that could enhance or save lives,” said Victoria's Minister for Health Jill Hennessy.