The startup funding round: $34 million for medtech, Birchal hits a milestone, and one Giant Leap for impact investment

Giant Leap partners Will Richardson, Adam Milgrom and Rachel Yang, and associate Charlie Macdonald. Source: supplied.

Between extended lockdowns, the ongoing debate around JobKeeper and the launch of our Smart50 Awards for 2021, we’ve still found plenty of room for startup news this week.

‘Afterpay-for-refunds’ startup Refundid secured $3 million for its tech designed to eliminate the friction in returns policies for e-commerce retailers, and Kiwi startup Komodo raised $1.7 million as it gears up to take its student wellbeing platform global.

We also saw family-run tech company Task acquired in a massive $120 million deal.

But, as always, there were a few funding stories we weren’t able to jump on right away. Here’s some of the funding news you might have missed.

Seer raises $34 million for epilepsy-focused medtech

A medtech focused on home management and monitoring for people with epilepsy has secured $34 million in Series A funding.

Founded in 2017, Seer already estimates it has diverted users from more than 140 hours of time spent in hospital. That’s saved Australian states and territories an estimated $100 million in healthcare costs.

Investors in the round include Aussie medtech giant Cochlear, as well as impact-focused VC Giant Leap, multi-family office EWM Group and SG Hiscock.

The startup will use the funding to expand its diagnostic services to more conditions, and to continue its product development trajectory.

“Seer is on the cutting edge of a new trend in medical technology, where it is being used to enable better home-care solutions, leading to improved access, lower costs, better outcomes and freeing up hospital beds for more acute care,” co-founder Dr Dean Freestone said in a statement.

“It’s a crucial shift, as our population growth is easily outpacing growth in the healthcare sector.”

Insurance-tech B Corp bags $31 million

B Corp and insurtech business Open — the parent company behind Huddle — has raised $31 million in Series B funding, including from repeat backers AirTree, UK VC Latitude and New Zealand investor Movac.

Open is focused on providing competitively priced insurance products in a way better suited to the digital world. It’s designed to offer a faster and more seamless experience, with 80% of the journey completed either automatically or through self-service online.

The funding is expected to fuel an international push for the business, which already has some 70,000 customers in Australia. Plans are also in the works to boost its local team and add new products and services, including solutions tailored to the SME sector.

“Insurtech is years behind payments and lending in terms of digitisation and it’s in need of renewed focus on customer outcomes,” Movac partner Jason Graham said in a statement.

“[Open’s] technology is built to bring trust back to the insurance industry and through their exponential growth, we can see that consumers prefer this new, ethical, digital way of doing insurance.

A $15 million Giant Leap

Giant Leap Fund (the very same that recently backed Seer) has been cashing in itself, having raised $15 million towards its second fund in the space of four weeks.

Founded in 2016, Giant Leap is dedicated entirely to investing in ‘impact’ startups.

It has three key investment themes: sustainable living, empowering people, and health and wellbeing. Portfolio companies include carbon-neutral courier business Sendle, non-biased recruitment tool Applied and robotic maggot farm startup Goterra.

“It took us two years to raise $15m for Giant Leap I — it was the first of its kind in Australia at the time,” managing partner Will Richardson said in a statement.

The speed at which the fund was able to secure $15 million is indicative of the increasing interest in ethical investment, he added.

It shows there is support for businesses looking to help solve some of the most pressing issues on a global scale, as well as making a return.

“There’s no better indicator that people are realising that there is no need to trade off commercial returns for impact.”

Earth AI’s sustainable mining tech

Earth AI has reportedly raised $7.5 million for its tech using artificial intelligence to find elements underground, allowing for more sustainable mining practices.

The tech uses 40 years’ worth of geological data compiled by mining companies, along with satellite data to predict where high-value minerals could be. That means cutting down on exploratory mining, bulldozing and test-drilling, founder and chief Roman Teslyuk told the Australian Financial Review.

There are environmental benefits, but it also cuts costs for mining companies.

“So we designed hardware that’s highly mobile, very low impact, and we can get in and get out, testing our predictions with a fraction of the traditional disturbance and traditional costs,” Teslyuk reportedly said.

All go at Birchal

It’s been a busy couple of weeks on equity crowdfunding platform Birchal, which just hit the milestone of 100 successful campaigns.

The 100th business to find success on Birchal was Perth-based e-bike startup Tiller Rides, which hit its $500,000 minimum target within 24 hours.

At the time of writing, Tiller has raised just over $900,000, with almost two weeks still to go. It has attracted 162 backers, pledging an average investment of more than $5,500.

Other recent Birchal success stories include medicinal cannabis business Medibis, which hit its maximum target to raise $1.8 million; pay-per-km car insurance startup Koba which hit its max of $1 million; and craft gin business Gintonica which has raised $409,000 with five days still to go.

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