First State Super launches venture capital platform

To drive investment in fintech innovation First State Super is building a venture capital platform to seed early-stage and emerging start-ups in Australia.

Speaking at the H2 Ventures Sydney Fintech Expo yesterday, First State Super's chief investment officer, Richard Brandweiner, said the platform will be comprised of three core components: technology, fintech, and biosciences.

"The idea for us is to seed early stage ideas through a partner," Brandweiner said.

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"Investing in a venture capital platform is much more important in a wider context [and] it is completely consistent with our fiduciary duty of maximising retirement savings."

The comments come in light of First State Super's decision to invest $110 million into venture capital firm Blackbird Ventures last month, as part of Blackbird's capital raising initiative that will see $200 million injected into the development of Australian local technology start-ups.

According to Brandweiner, investing in venture capital is beneficial to the long-term economic prosperity and wealth of a country like Australia.

"It's early days but there's an evolution of thinking with super funds happening... my sense is that there is a lot more appetite for super funds to invest in venture capital," Brandweiner said.

Currently, H2 Ventures operates Australia's only fintech accelerator, dedicated to fostering the growth of early stage entrepreneurs and according to its founding partner, Ben Heap, is committed to backing "a further 100 start-ups" over the next few years.

Heap said that financial services in Australia is an "area of competitive advantage" due to the size and stability of Australia's banking and superannuation systems as well as the experience of people working in these fields.

"This is the reason Australia is already [excelling] and will continue to excel in fintech regionally and globally," Heap said.

"Fintech is not new. Banks and financial services institutions have been investing in new technology for years but now there's an increased focus on the consumer and a shift towards digital channels."




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