The managing director of venture capital fund Southern Cross Venture Partners, Larry Marshall, says it’s a good time to be an internet entrepreneur in Australia, with a steady flow of funds and experience into the sector.
But Marshall says he is less confident about “deep technology” in Australia, which is essentially new inventions in areas like renewable energy, robotics and materials. Many brilliant inventions are sitting unused on the shelf, he says, and foreign investors are cashing in by seeking them out (or “mining” for them) and then commercialising them.
Marshall, who is based in Palo Alto, California, was a driving force behind Blackbird Ventures, a new fund backed by a group of successful Australian entrepreneurs, which will help with Series A rounds. He is also involved with non-profit organisation Advance and its Innovation Program, which aims to bring Silicon Valley experience to Australian start-ups.
“I think now, particularly, this latest generation of entrepreneurs are realising they can stay here and still be successful,” Marshall tells BRW. “It’s becoming a really vibrant ecosystem, particularly in the web space. Tall oaks drop acorns and create other trees, and you will see that here with the help of companies like Atlassian.”
He adds: “What I’m worried about next is what will we do about the deep technology? In Australia there is $6 billion to $8 billion spent annually on R&D so there is a wellspring of wonderful technology. I have got to tell you, Aussies are as innovative as anyone on the planet when it comes to creation of technology, and I think that area gets overlooked.”