Uniseed Chief Executive Peter Devine named among top leaders changing university venturing world-wide
Global University Venturing has ranked Uniseed CEO Peter Devine fifth in its ‘Powerlist 2018’ – a list of more than 100 people who are changing the face of university venturing worldwide.
Peter is the only Australian to have made the top 20, headed by Oxford Sciences Innovation’s Jim Wilkinson and including executives from funds in the UK, US, and Japan.
Uniseed was Australia’s first early stage research commercialisation fund and is currently partnered with the universities of Queensland, Sydney, New South Wales and Melbourne, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). These five institutions account for around half of the commercial output in Australia in terms of patents and start-ups formed.
The total value exit deals for Uniseed spin-out companies is nearly $2 billion. Blockbuster Uniseed exits managed under Peter’s leadership include three of Australia’s highest-profile biotechnology exits that won the Australian Venture Capital Association (AVCAL) Best Early Stage Deal of Year for three consecutive years – in 2014 for the Fibrotech Therapeutics sale to Shire, in 2015 for the Spinifex sale to Novartis, and in 2016 for the Hatchtech sale to Dr Reddys Laboratories. The three deals are still talked about today – in May this year, Nature published an article that recognised all three as among record-breakers in the global biotech space .
“Uniseed helps turn good ideas into great realities, and I feel privileged to be in a position where I’m among the first to see new technologies and inventions from leading researchers at Australia’s top research organisations,” Peter said.
“The Australian university venturing ecosystem has never been so healthy; we’ve moved from a mining and agriculture economy with little to no venture capital industry when Uniseed started in 2000, to a vibrant and buoyant environment today where the number of venture funds raised and pool of local venture capital is at record levels.
“Even after years of working in this role, I continue to get excited about the new inventions we see at our partner research institutions – inventions that could change lives, improve the environment, and build great businesses not just in Australia but also globally.
“The impact on society that some of this research will have is immeasurable, and I am truly honoured to play a part.”
Uniseed was established in late 2000 by the two founding universities in Queensland and Melbourne, as a proof-of-concept fund designed to invest small amounts of capital to make technologies ‘investible’ for more traditional investors.
Peter became Uniseed’s CEO in 2006 and launched Uniseed’s AU$40m second fund, changing the model from a proof-of-concept fund to a commercialisation fund in partnership with Queensland, New South Wales and Melbourne universities. Not only did this fund ‘bridge the gap’ between university research and the investment market, but it participated in all subsequent funding rounds up to $2.5 million per investment.
Before joining Uniseed, Peter worked in four biotechnology start-up companies including leading the research and development team that helped PanBio develop the world’s leading diagnostic tests for dengue fever. PanBio was awarded the Australian Small Business of Year Award, the Australian Quality Award, and the Queensland Export Achievement Award, and the company was placed in the BRW Top 100 Australian Growing Companies for seven consecutive years. After successfully listing on the ASX, PanBio was sold to multinational diagnostics company Inverness Medical (now Alere).
In 2003 Peter was awarded the Commonwealth of Australia Centenary Medal for ‘distinguished service to business in the biotechnology industry’.
Peter holds a PhD from the University of Queensland and received the Dean’s Prize for his MBA Studies at the Australian Graduate School of Management. He is a Graduate and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds Diploma of Financial Services (Financial Markets) and a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance from Kaplan Professional. In 2011 and 2012, Peter was named on the Kaplan High Achievers Honour Roll.
 Nature 10 May 2018 | Vol 557 | S27 – S29
Media contact, images, interviews: Ilona Marchetta, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0416 156 136
Uniseed is a successful Australian early stage commercialisation fund that makes investments in research emerging from five of Australia’s leading research organisations – The University of Queensland, The University of Sydney, The University of New South Wales, The University of Melbourne and the CSIRO. The fund represents these five stakeholders to identify and invest in the most promising opportunities within their institutions. Uniseed is a mutual fund, owned by research organisations, for research organisations. Uniseed’s mandate is to facilitate the commercialisation of research partner-generated intellectual property by targeted investment in highly promising technologies. For more information, visit www.uniseed.com