NAB unveils $2bn capital boost for startups

Bank says it will support emerging tech-enabled firms access financing

NAB has launched a team focused on high-growth technology companies, with the bank today revealing it aims to help facilitate emerging Australian tech-enabled firms access $2 billion in financing through loans or access to capital markets over the next half decade.

The bank said it would support companies from any sector that have "technology-enabled business models with high levels of medium-term potential".

“This commitment is about giving technology companies with demonstrated potential for growth the shot-in-the-arm they need to be bigger and better,” said NAB’s chief customer officer business and private banking, Anthony Healy.

“These tech-driven companies are often already profitable but need further capital and banking expertise to grow.

NAB cited the CSIRO Australian National Outlook 2060 report, released earlier this week, as providing part of the impetus for its initiative. NAB participated in the preparation of the report, which outlines two potential scenarios for Australia’s future: ‘Slow Decline’ or a positive ‘Outlook Vision’.

The latter future will require five core shifts, the report argues, covering industry, energy, changes in urban areas and land use, and culture.

The report advocates for increased adoption of technology to boost productivity both in industries that have historically supported growth as well as new industries, increased investment in skills, and the development of export-facing growth industries based on Australia’s strengths. ‘Outlook Vision’ would see Australia’s Total Factor Productivity growth rate rise to close to 2 per cent in 2060, compared to an average 0.6 per cent increase over the last three decades.

If this productivity level is to be met, it will depend in large part on the adoption of technology,” the report states, although it notes that that includes “all technology (new and old, as well as digital, mechanical and human processes), not just digital.”

“The rate of broad technology adoption is the most important differentiator between national economic performances,52 and has been shown to account for at least one-quarter of real per capita income growth,” the report adds.

“We have used the insights of the Australian National Outlook 2019 report to take action,” Healy said.

Last week, the bank’s venture arm chalked up a new milestone: Its first exit courtesy of H&R Block’s acquisition of Wave Financial. NAB Ventures in 2017 led the fintech’s $32 million Series D round.

NAB launched its NAB Ventures fund in early 2016. The $100 million VC fund has investments in Basiq, Data Republic, Medipass, Veem, Brick X, Activepipe and Slyp.

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