Australian Government Steps Into Venture Capital, Apax Steps Out

Plenty of news from abroad today.

The Australian government decided to pony up $80 million for four venture funds that invest in startups down under.

On the other side of the world, Apax Partners sold its interest in 16 portfolio companies to secondary market investor Azini Capital as U.K.-based Apax continues its exit from venture capital.

The Australian government’s move represents the fourth round of investment under a 1997 program aimed at helping early stage entrepreneurs commercialize their research. Twelve funds have been singled out over the years.

The $80 million in the present round is to be matched by private funds and will go to three life sciences and bioscience funds: Carnegie Venture Capital, MRCF IIF Partnership and Start-up Australia; and Southern Cross Venture Partners, an Internet, software and cleantech investor.

Since 1998, the government’s Innovation Investment Fund has financed more than 90 companies, including the Internet startup Looksmart, pain management company QRxPharma, drug discoverer Pharmaxis and the biotech company Alchemia.

Meanwhile, Apax acknowledged the sale of its interests in technology startups based in the United Kingdom, United States, Israel and Ireland, according to a report from the Alternative Assets Network.

Said to be included were cellular phone maker Sonim, semiconductor designer Frontier Silicon and battery maker Power Paper. The value of the deal was not disclosed.