May 2004 Investor Forum

If your doctor's explanation of the cause and effect of your illness leaves you bewildered and even more anxious, an innovative suite of animation products from an Australian software design company may bridge the knowledge gap between medico and patient.

Six-year-old software designer BodyOnline has invested $6.2 million to develop a library of three-dimensional animations and images to help health-care professionals explain more graphically the workings of the human body.

Want to see how a disease or other medical disorder is affecting your body? With a few clicks of a computer mouse a doctor can show the affected part of the body, rotate it on its axis, and even zoom in for greater detail.

BodyOnline was one of six innovative companies to pitch for funds from private investors at a forum in Sydney that showed renewed interest from venture capitalists.

Mostly information technology firms with a couple of medical-inspired businesses, the group was after a total of $6.1million from investors who attended the BSI Investor Forum.

This amount is marginally below the March forum's $6.3 million but the average sought per business was up 28 per cent. Companies were pitching in the range of $500,000 to $2.5 million.

Alan Milwidsky, a director of BSI, said $4.5 million was indicated through expressions of interest from the March forum.

Interest from last week's forum was strong, with all six companies scheduled to meet with interested investors for initial talks.

Mr Milwidsky attributed stronger investor interest to a slowdown in the property cycle, renewed interest in IT and the pick-up in initial public offerings that has improved their confidence in exiting successful investments.

In the March quarter, 31 IPOs were completed, compared with eight the same time last year, according to a Deloitte Corporate Finance survey.

BodyOnline sought the largest amount - $2 million - to fund overseas expansion, meet working capital requirements, undertake research and development and retire some debt.

Another business with a medical product is Visionmed, which developed eyewear for people afflicted by sleep apnoea.

According to Visionmed data presented at the forum, Australia has 120,000 diagnosed sleep apnoea sufferers, of whom 85 to 95 per cent wear glasses. Half of these people wear sleep apnoea masks that prevent them from reading or watching television.

The company wants $600,000 for international distribution, R&D, intellectual property protection and marketing.

In the communication area, mobile roaming costs are a major issue for companies, forcing some to block their employees' mobile phones while travelling overseas.

vRoam reckons it has a solution that can cut the cost of a company's roaming mobile calls.

By taking advantage of the large differences in costs for a local mobile user compared with a visiting (roaming) user and the differential between landline and mobile international calls, vRoam estimates it can shave off 25 to 50 per cent.

It's after $450,000 to purchase overseas simcards, and for systems development and marketing.

Webit Technologies has a strong overseas presence. It developed internet application server systems to provide registration and management of projects and events, but also wants to expand into e-learning.

A director of Webit, Felix La Spina, said that his company generated 90 per cent of its $2 million in annual sales overseas. Major accounts include Intel, 3Com and Citrix.

If Webit gets its $750,000, the funds will be used for e-learning R&D, marketing and sales, and client management.

The etechgroup, which made a pitch for $900,000, has broader exposure to online e-learning.

Established 10 years ago, etechgroup developed online training, education tools and applications for the corporate market on a fee-for-service basis. In the last financial year, fees amounted to $839,846 and licences to $66,000.

The proposed funds are for product development, management and marketing, and operational and administrative expenses.

An executive board position is available for a strategic investor who funds most the capital requirements.

Author: Mark Fenton-Jones
Date: 11/05/2004
Source: AFRBreaking
Publication: Financial Review
Section: Enterprise

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