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Follow the Funding: Capital Flows in Asia

In collaboration with KPMG Australia, our 7th Quarterly Early-Stage Innovation Briefing was focused on ‘Capital Flows in Asia’. High up in their futuristic new offices at Barangaroo, we discussed the ever-increasing role of Asia (primarily China) in Australian startup and early-stage investment activity. We also covered the various ways in which Australian entrepreneurs and investors have managed to gain a foothold in Chinese and other Asian markets. The audience, mostly consisting of Artesian Australian VC Fund investors, appreciated the valuable insights provided by our expert panelists.

Here’s a quick recap of how the evening unfolded:

‘Startup Standups’

startup-standup

First up, we had our usual stand up from the founders of three Artesian portfolio companies: Dr Alan Taylor from Clarity Pharmaceuticals, Riad Chikhani from GAMURS and Jared Christensen from TicketSquad.

All three gave an overview of the latest developments in each of their businesses and invited interested audience members to chat with them afterwards. Even though our VC fund was intended to offer investors diversified exposure to hundreds of Australia’s most exciting startups at once, following and assisting passionate entrepreneurs along their journeys is one of the most satisfying aspects of early-stage investing.

Investor Panel: ‘Thematic Areas of Interest of Asian Investors’

artesian-panel

The panelists included Tom Ellis (Investment Director at Mai Capital), William Deane (Managing Director at Exto Partners), Piers Grove (Founder at EnergyLab), Tim Heasley (on behalf of SproutX) and Dr Alan Taylor (Executive Chairman at Clarity Pharmaceuticals). Moderator: Vicky Lay, Managing Director at Artesian.

The panel focused on the sectors in which Australia is perceived to add significant value and demonstrate leadership, including agriculture/agribusiness, clean energy, education, medical/life sciences and health care. With a rising middle class and a growing “New Rich” population, China is specifically interested in investing in these areas due to its own social, economic and environmental agendas over the coming decades. Expansion into China, Australian innovators can be less prone to ‘copycats’ (which is generally more of a problem with B2C products) while accessing a much larger market opportunity; provided, of course, they can overcome geographic, regulatory and cultural differences. Mai Capital, for example, is a venture firm that invests in Australian startups wanting to access Chinese markets and partners with them to overcome these challenges.

The key takeaways from this panel including the importance of finding local and in-country partners with valuable connections and relevant expertise as well as aligning offerings with Chinese market priorities.   

Corporate Panel: ‘How Corporates, Governments and Startups Best Engage in Asia’

The panelists included Mingles Tsoi (Director at KPMG China), Duco van Breemen (General Manager at Haymarket HQ), Andrea Myles (CEO at China Australia Millennial Project), Matthew Proft (Manager at Landing Pads by Austrade) and Con Raso (Founder at Tuned Global). Moderator: James Mabbott, Partner & Head of KPMG Innovate at KPMG Australia

This panel focused on the importance of physical presence and relationships. For example, a ‘Landing Pad’ recently opened at the XNode coworking space in Shanghai to host Australian entrepreneurs while they find their feet and transition into their own space and Haymarket HQ recently opened in Sydney to host Asia-focused startups and facilitate connections. Mingles spoke about the importance of understanding the significant differences between Chinese cities and regions (in terms of their sector focus and approach to doing business). Seeing China as a collection of disparate, slightly smaller markets can assist entrepreneurs (or investors) in landing where their interests lie and where they have the highest chance of success. Andrea emphasised the importance of having (or looking for) Chinese language skills on founding teams, to be able to make the most of the opportunities there. All panelists spoke about the importance of partnering with trusted, credible individuals or organisations to achieve the best possible results; knowing how to navigate regulatory, cultural and social differences is critical to startup and investing success in Asia.

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We thank all participants for their involvement and look forward to our next Early-Stage Innovation Briefing in Brisbane this November.

Artesian & KPMG Early-Stage Innovation Briefings are special events reserved for Artesian Venture Capital Fund investors only. To find more about how you can become an investor and gain access to exclusive events and research, visit our product page or request a follow up.

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