The SAVCF is back up and running with a new team at the helm
The Advertiser (Cameron England) reported that:
After almost a year of effective hiatus, the South Australian Venture Capital Fund has a new manager and is keen to talk business.
The South Australian Venture Capital Fund is very much open for business and is already assessing potential investments, new manager David Rohrsheim says.
Mr Rohrsheim, who recently returned to live in Adelaide after more than seven years heading up Uber across Australia and New Zealand, is taking the lead locally for investment company Artesian, which won the mandate to run the $50 million fund.
The SAVCF was effectively on hiatus for a year following the collapse of Blue Sky Alternative Investments - the previous manager - in May last year. Mr Rohrsheim said he and investment manager Alexandra Grigg, who was previously with Blue Sky, were working their way through a backlog of potential investee companies’ proposals.
The Artesian team will be based at the Lot Fourteen start-up incubator once the coronavirus crisis passes, and have already set up a new website setting out what the fund is seeking to invest in and how to make contact.
Mr Rohrsheim said Sydney-based Artesian had good international networks, which would be useful as the SA fund required co-investment from a partner to sit beside investment from itself.
Artesian would also help with due diligence, and had a broad range of expertise across a large number of investments, Mr Rohrsheim said.
While proposals were flowing from a broad range of sectors, there appeared to be more agtech opportunities locally than perhaps in other regions, while machine learning and AI opportunities were also expected to be strongly represented.
“There is also a lot of opportunities around space,’’ Mr Rohrsheim he said.
“We have one space investment in the fund in Myriota and with the space agency here there are a lot more people thinking of a lot of ideas.
“Some of them are at the very early stage and the SA Venture Capital Fund, we get involved once there is a bit of traction, once the product is ready, they have some customers and want to put in a few million dollars and really grow.
“We haven’t seen the full cycle of the space agency yet but there’s a lot of excitement.’’
Defence was also expected to be a strong growth area, and the fund had previously invested in Fivecast, which provides digital intelligence solutions.
Mr Rohrsheim said many start-ups could be quite nimble and adapt to the current business environment, particularly if they were in the software space. He also said with some people with a bit more time on their hands, there might be a silver lining with some inspired to give their own ideas a go. The venture capital industry in Australia has expanded even since the SA fund was launched about three years ago, Mr Rohrsheim said, however the SAVCF is still the only locally focused fund of this size.
“And we have to co-invest each time which means we’re bringing in capital from other states which is a good outcome.’’
Mr Rohrsheim said companies which survived the tough times would be lean and well-adapted to survival longer-term.