A Bill Gates Backed Fund Is Investing in an Aussie HIV Testing Company
Thursday, January 14, 2016
An investment fund backed by billionaire Bill Gates is pouring $6 million into a Sydney HIV and malaria testing company.
The US based Global Health Investment Fund (GHIF), which was set up by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and investment bank JPMorgan in 2013, will hand Sydney based Atomo Diagnostics fresh funds as it seeks to scale up production of its self testing devices, expand its sales activities and the commercial rollout of its products in developing countries.
Atomo makes a palm-sized device that makes it possible for people to test for HIV in their own home, and has already been exporting devices to South Africa.
The diagnostic testing industry shot to prominence in the investment world for all the wrong reasons last year. Theranos, a Silicon Valley startup valued at $US9 billion, which claims to have the technology to carry out comprehensive testing for hundreds of conditions using a few drops of blood from a finger prick, much more cheaply than existing methods, was accused of “struggling” with its blood tests, and actually testing people using traditional machines.
Yet Mr Kelly said the increased scrutiny surrounding Theranos could actually benefit his company. “It has put a commercial value on companies that have disruptive diagnostics,” he said. “Although they have failed to execute, they [Theranos] have opened up that opportunity in the eyes of investors, and that’s what we hope to capitalise on.”