Capital raising success

Five Australian manufacturers raise $162 million in capital markets on the back of early investment by AMGC through co-funded projects.

While challenges of 2022 have shaken up capital markets, the past 12 months has brought some incredibly positive stories about Australian manufacturers with world-class products receiving serious investment to reach the next stage of growth.

This month began with news of a $54 million Series A round received by environmental technology manufacturer Samsara Eco. The company is commercialising “enzymatic depolymerisation” methods developed at Australian National University, putting them to use converting end-of-life plastics back into chemical building blocks for reuse.

Samsara was awarded co-investment of $568,491 under the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre Commercialisation Fund a year ago to help establish a pilot plant to prove its “infinite recycling” approach, with the project playing a crucial role in commercialising the company’s product.

During this time, Samsara has reduced its processing time from about an hour to reportedly ten minutes to process a batch of PET or polyester plastic into monomers – the key to recycling plastics. Samsara is currently building out a library of enzymes to process a variety of plastic types and preparing to open its first commercial facility in 2024, with a 20,000 tonne per annum capacity, on the way to even bigger things.

Another manufacturer meeting the needs of a world wanting to cut down on petrochemicals and their environmental impact is Great Wrap, established in 2019 by husband-and-wife team Julia and Jordy Kay.

Great Wrap announced a $24 million Series A deal in July 2022, following the 2020 launch of its first product, a compostable, bio-based cling wrap. The company has two sites – one on the Mornington Peninsula and the other at Tullamarine, with the latter developed to turn potato industry waste into bioplastic PHA.

AMGC identified Great Wrap’s potential early, awarding the company $534,760 in co-funding towards a $6.41 million collaborative project to bring their bacterial fermentation-based technology to commercial reality. They plan to upcycle 50,000 tonnes per annum of potato waste per year into sustainable stretch film for uses such as pallet wrap.

LAVO is another innovator with both consumer and industrial end-users, focusing on long-duration energy storage (LDES) solutions

Metal hydrides developed at University of NSW and commercialised by LAVO, with help from a long list of local collaborators, promise battery life superior to lithium-ion batteries available for families, solar farms, mine sites, and telcos.

LAVO underwent a $50 million Series A round in 2021 and announced GHD as its cornerstone investor in a Series B in August – proof Australian manufacturers are leading the world in green technologies.

AMGC supported a LAVO-led collaborative project, featuring UNSW, Design + Industry, Providence, GHD, Varley, and Greater Springfield, through $221,875 in co-investment. A further project led by Nedstack Australia Pty Ltd (a JV between LAVO and Nedstack) was awarded $825,000 from AMGC’s Commercialisation Fund to prototype and develop Australia’s first utility-scale hydrogen PEM fuel cell.

Leveraging this global lead is New South Wales based AMSL Aero which is investigating hydrogen fuel cells to extend the range of its Vertiia VTOL air mobility vehicle which can travel 250 kilometres using lithium-ion batteries.

AMSL, another husband-and-wife-led company, was founded by aeronautical engineer Andrew Moore and ex-Google executive Siobhan Lyndon in 2017.

Its ‘flying car’ is on the way to certification and manufacture, with enormous potential servicing the needs of firefighting, ambulance, defence, and other workers, as well as saving time on inter-city and regional commutes and beyond.

The mobility company closed a $23 million Series B capital raise in September. An early supporter was AMGC, which provided $400,000 in co-investment for a project involving design, build and testing of the wings and fuselage of the Vertiia aircraft.

Groundbreaking local developments also reach down to the micro level, with Noosaville based Provectus Algae achieving a pre-Series A raise valued at $US 11.4 million, a major step towards realising the untapped potential hidden among millions of algae species.

The synthetic biology and biomanufacturing company combine expertise including in AI, LED lights, automation and genomics to derive new compounds at high yields from microalgae.

Its innovations have usefulness in industries ranging from food to pharmaceuticals and beyond, all while their fast-growing algae sequesters carbon dioxide through photosynthesis.

AMGC is proud to have played a part in Provectus’s progress, contributing $250,000 in co-funding to a collaborative project to implement a fully automated, commercial scale, algae biologics manufacturing facility.

These five companies have proven that even during the toughest of economic and geopolitical conditions, those tackling important, unaddressed problems with novel, difficult-to-copy solutions can and will continue to attract the backing of investors with figures dwarfing that available to SaaS companies only a handful of years ago.

AMGC has been privileged to support such businesses at the most difficult part of their journey by recognising potential and co-investing for growth.

AMGC’s recent 2022 Projects Report shows it’s a formula that’s working. From 141 projects and a total industry and government co-funding worth $137.2 million (cash and in-kind), an impact of approximately $1.62 billion in additional revenues are expected. Among 31 completed projects, a return on investment of 9:1 has been achieved for the entire co-investment fund.

Many of the startups AMGC has backed have cited the tremendous benefits of linking with scientific and engineering collaborators they did not know existed in Australia. Another frequent comment is that a raised profile and validation in the eyes of investors has been an important result of AMGC backing.