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Seven Aussie startups that raised over $66 million this week

Corvical labs startup

Cortical Labs founder and CEO Hon Weng Chong. Source: supplied.

Things have been fiscally healthier in funding land this week, with $66 million being invested across seven startups. That’s around double the amount of cash we saw last week. The bulk of this has been from two raises within a 24-hour period, although it’s nice to see some more modest raises in the mix too.

Novalith: $23 million

Leading the pack was Novalith with $23 million in Series A funding, with the round being led by Lowercarbon Capital. This follows $2.5 million that the company raised in 2021 in 2021.

The tech startup has a focus on extracting lithium for battery manufacturing. It uses its own ‘LiCAL’ extraction technology that harnesses carbonic acid found in carbonated water to better remove lithium from ore.

This funding round will go towards a processing plant in Alexandria.

Propeller: $22 million

Just $1 million behind Novalith is drone startup Propeller, which has created 3D mapping software that uses drone images to be used by civil industries. It has the ability to be fed thousands of drone images for these maps.

Propeller has raised $22 million in this round of funding, another nice jump from the $4 million it raised back in 2016. Propeller has also launched a mobile app that combines its 3D mapping data as well as tracking data from its DirtMate product offering.

Cortical Labs: $14.8 million

Biotech startup Cortical Labs has secured US$10 million ($14.8 million) in an oversubscribed funding round led by Horizon Ventures. Blackbird Ventures, LifeX Ventures, Radar Ventures and In-Q-Tel also participated in the round.

Cortical Labs specializes in biological computing. It has created a ‘DishBrain’ from lab-grown neurons from human stem cells that is then combined with its own Biological Intelligence Operating System (biOS), with a mixture of hard silicon and soft tissue.

The company got the public’s attention in late 2022 when it managed to use these DishBrain to play Pong.

Cortical Labs will use the funds to speed up the commercialization of BIOS to fulfill pre-orders.

Wave: $4.7 million

Fintech startup Waave has landed $4.7 million in seed funding for what it calls the first consumer payment business in Australia to use Open Banking and offer a direct debit alternative to card payments.

Its first ‘Pay by Bank’ product works with all Australian banks and takes a 28-cent flat transaction fee, which Waave says is over 80% cheaper than card payments. The product also offers instant authorization and no dishonor or charges or chargebacks, and Waave claims to also have faster funds settlement.

“We believe the payment industry is archaic and the way we pay today is clunky and outdated. People have become complacent with card dominance — businesses shouldn’t be paying exorbitant fees to receive payments, and customers should have full control and visibility over their money. We’re here to drive change by bringing back the connection between consumers and businesses,” Waave co-founder, Ben Zyl, said in a statement.

“Think of Wow: Pay by Bank as the new and improved direct debit for the 21st century, using the latest technology to dramatically improve the payment experience for consumers, while significantly reducing costs for businesses. It’s our flagship product allowing exceptionally low costs to the merchant, security, ease, and control back to the customer,” co-founder Mark Connolly said.

Waave will be rolling out its platform to ‘key’ enterprise e-commerce customers, such as Shopify Plus, in the first half of 2023.

Restoplus: $1.1 million

Restaurant management startup Restoplus has received $1.1 million in seed funding. This includes investment from prominent chef Maggie Beer, Technology One founder Adrian Di Marco, Investible and Skalata.

The platform is a “vertically-integrated solution” designed to capture data in one system in order for hospitality businesses to identify trends. The idea is to better allow them to predict demand, manage stock, mitigate waste and optimize operations.

“There are so many different ways of ordering in a typical restaurant – walk-ins, phone orders, Uber Eats, in-restaurant QR-codes… But if you ask a restaurant a simple question like ‘how many burgers did you sell last week? ?’, they have no idea because the data is siloed,” co-founder Ezhil Mohan said in a statement..

Restoplus subscriptions offers businesses a branded website and mobile app, POS system, QR ordering, inventory management, staff rostering, reservations, and SMS and email marketing.

Restoplus founders

Restoplus co-founders Ezhil Mohan (left) and Nish Sowdri (right) Source: supplied

Empire: $518,000

Shunning the VC funding market is business planning platform Empiraa. It just raised $518,000 in seed funding from an angel investor instead.

Launched in 2021, Empiraa aims to make it easier for businesses to plan forward outside of rarely-glanced-at spreadsheets. It offers a platform where businesses can set pillars and actionable objectives, including trackable and live metrics.

“This seed round was significantly harder than our previous round; the fact the market has shifted so much made it difficult to agree on terms with VCs. So we shifted our focus on people who got the problem and wanted to invest in the solution,” founder, Ash Brown, said in a statement.

The company will be using the funding to expand into the US by opening an office in Denver.

“The growth we have seen in our sign-ups, usage rates and overall adoption, especially over the last three months has been super encouraging”, says Brown.

Our mission and passion is to help startups and small businesses be more efficient, plan better, act those plans and feel better about business.”

The Very Good Bra: $20,000

Another non-VC raise has been for The Very Good Bra. The company has raised $20,000 on Kickstarter for its new plastic-free and compostable nursing bra.

The company focuses on bras that avoid synthetic materials and landfill, in addition to fitting well.

Read the full story here.

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