Twiggy Forrest is backing biotech with a new $250 million VC fund

WA mining billionaire Andrew Forrest has turned his investment attention to the health tech sector, with a new $250 million venture capital fund.

The VC, Tenmile, is being backed by Tattarang, the Fortescue Metal Group founder’s private investment company.

Tenmile will target startups focused on unmet medical needs that support sustainable and equitable healthcare, offering seed and expansion capital.

Headquartered in Perth, with team members in Sydney and San Francisco, it will have a global outlook, and has already partnered with San Francisco-based Rock Health and is an investor in its latest digital health fund.

Two previous investments made by Dr Forrest through Tattarang and his charitable arm, the Minderoo Foundation, have gone into the Tenmile portfolio.

The VC’s initial backing has gone to ASX-listed psychedelic drugs medtech Emyria, which announced $5 million from Tattarang last November.

The Minderoo Foundation’s $5.4 million raise for cancer biotech startup Carina Biotech was announced last September. The Adelaide-based biotech is using the cash injection to research and develop chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapies that could provide new approaches to treating solid cancers.

Dr Forrest said it was different to other local VC funds, because it is solely targeting health tech and can move quickly without obligations to investors and lenders.

“Our laser-focused approach means we can help early-stage companies, researchers and entrepreneurs tap into seed funding to help them when they need it most, and then provide follow-on support, which is often unavailable through government or public sector funds,” het said.

“Tenmile will help Australian researchers and Australian companies, through our extensive knowledge, global networks and dedicated capital to deliver life-changing products and medical treatments in a way that this country has not seen before.”

His wife and Tattarang co-chair Nicola Forrest said the fund has a deep commitment to ethical and sustainable health treatments and technology.

“Tenmile is another demonstration of our focus in using capital as a force for good and will apply Tattarang’s responsible investment framework, including backing female founded and led health businesses,” she said.

Health tech veteran Dr Steve Burnell has been named as Tenmile’s executive chair.

“Although Tenmile is focused on opportunities in Australia and on building the broader health sciences commercialisation ecosystem here, we will continue to invest and partner in international markets both for the returns and to support our Australian investees to access markets and capital internationally,” he said.

“Health technology for us encompasses areas as diverse as medical devices, diagnostics, biotech, pharmaceuticals, and even healthcare services. We are particularly excited about emerging opportunities in immunology, oncology, digital health, the microbiome and microbial resistance.”