Australian VC OneVentures has bolstered its women-led leadership team ahead of plans to grow its funds with a focus on healthcare and biotech.
This month it announced the appointment of three new women to senior leadership positions to help grow its portfolio with a focus on healthcare and biotech products.
“We’ll be [at] over a billion in funds under management by this time next year,” founding partner and managing director of OneVentures Dr Michelle Deaker tells SmartCompany.
One of Australia’s leading VC firms, OneVentures currently has $600 million in funds under management.
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Beyond a recently-inked deal for a Venture Growth Fund in which OneVentures committed $15 million, the VC has big plans to grow its Healthcare Fund, along with a new Growth Fund later this year.
The Victorian Government is providing $25 million to establish the Venture Growth Fund, which will offer eligible high-growth startups access to venture credit of between $50,000 and $5 million, helping create jobs and driving economic growth.
To drive these plans it has hired three new senior leadership roles this year: new Principal Jeannie Joughin; Investment Director Justine Carzino; and Head of Marketing and Communications Carolyn Miller.
Joughin’s experience both at large pharmaceutical companies and startups will strengthen the firm’s health focus, as does her strong background working overseas.
“She’s bringing all those abilities and international networks and connections back to Australia,” Deaker says.
“I think the funding is there [now to find] great Australian technology companies and healthcare businesses as they grow, and take them to the next level.”
Carzino will continue to support the firm’s work in finding opportunities in Victoria and bringing in new companies open to venture debt funding.
The focus will be on “really expanding the types of capital that are available to startups in Australia through that fund.”
Finally Miller’s agency and corporate background will help expand awareness about the firm’s tech and healthcare companies.
Miller will be working “very actively with our portfolio companies to raise their messaging and their profile,” Deaker says.
Deaker says as the firm accelerates its growth plans, she is focused on exhibiting gender parity within the organisation, particularly as it accelerates its ambitions to grow more healthcare startups focused on women’s health.
OneVentures showcases a 50/50 gender split across the entire company it says has proven profitable for companies and investors alike.
The firm on Thursday was awarded a Diversity and Inclusion Award at the AIC Growth Private Equity Awards, in recognition of its leadership in diversity with a 70 percent female investment team and 50/50 leadership team.
Deaker is also urging other VCs to have women represented on the Investment Committees for each fund they manage, to drive a structural shift in ideas and encourage more female-founded businesses to access VC funds.
“We want our investments to do well for our investors and generate great returns, but also to do well for society,” Dealer says.
“And I personally think the two come hand in hand.”
She points to several startups focused on women and health such as Madorra, which is developing treatments for treating vaginal dryness for menopausal women, or women post-breast cancer, which had previously struggled to access VC funding.
“That company found it very difficult to raise money from male-led firms, particularly in Silicon Valley,” Deaker says.
“Now, they’re getting very strong interest from pharmaceutical companies.”
Other startups in the portfolio include Vaxxas, a biotech developing technology for needle-free vaccine patches, and Blade Therapies, which is creating new drugs to address fibrosis.
Health, particularly women’s health is an area the organisation wants to focus on as pharmaceutical companies increasingly look toward the traditionally underserved market for women’s healthcare.
This is also being led by women-led companies, Deaker says.
“There’s definitely a perception shift.
“We certainly see a lot more women bringing forward businesses for funding and healthcare than we do in tech,” Deaker says, though she is keen to expand the firm’s footprint across both sectors.
“If we look at both sides of that, you know, different markets, we’ve funded more female CEOs in healthcare than in tech too.”