How ABGF is helping propel Australian businesses into the future.

Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the Australian economy, and their resolve has been tested more than most as they face the challenges of surviving a global pandemic.

 

Pictured above:  3ME Executive Team

Yet during this time, there have been stories of remarkable innovation and growth. This is where the Australian Business Growth Fund (ABGF) and 3ME Technology’s story begins.

Case Study – 3ME Technology

3ME Technology

 

Innovation in action

Based in NSW’s Hunter Region, 3ME Technology is an Australian-grown high-tech business, with more than 15 years’ experience in developing electric vehicle (EV) systems and safe, high-performance lithium-ion batteries.

3ME Technology leads the way in electrifying heavy-duty vehicles and machines operating in mission critical environments. The company’s success lies in its ability to overcome possibly the greatest technological and safety challenge in electrification — preventing thermal runaway, which is a significant fire risk in batteries. 3ME Technology developed a cell-level battery management system, where individual cells can be monitored, predictive analysis completed in real time and a battery shut down remotely if a cell is not performing as expected.

This pioneering technology is being applied across the mining, defence and aerospace sectors. In a world first, 3ME Technology’s BLADEVOLT® battery system has been retrofitted into a typically diesel-powered 20-tonne loader — the workhorse of underground, hard rock mines. This Australian-made capability is now extending into the electrification of defence vehicles, supporting the upgrade of Australia’s sovereign defence land capabilities. 3ME Technology is also working with partners to launch its battery systems into space.

Although there’s a saying “space is the final frontier”, this feels more like the beginning for 3ME Technology.

In 2021, 3ME Technology was ranked the most innovative company for agriculture, mining and utilities in Australasia by AFR BOSS Most Innovative Companies.

“We’re at the forefront of an emerging Australian industry,” says 3ME Technology CEO Justin Bain. “There’s a big opportunity to scale up production because we’re solving safety and environmental problems that apply across a range of industries, not just mining. But we face the same challenge as most SMEs — getting access to capital to help us grow, while retaining control and staying focused on our technology vision.”

 

The ABGF partnership

Established in 2020 by the Australian Government in partnership with leading banks, the fund provides patient growth capital to Australian SMEs, filling a gap in the market between late-stage venture capital and larger buyout funds. The ultimate vision of ABGF is to drive economic growth for Australia, and more jobs for Australians.

ABGF’s inaugural investment of $15million in 3ME Technology is enabling the company to expand its production facilities, invest in research and development, and market into new sectors. This will help accelerate Australia’s domestic battery manufacturing, and the investment is expected to triple 3ME Technology’s business capability over the next five (5) years, resulting in significant job creation in the NSW Hunter region.

ABGF CEO Anthony Healy explains: “ABGF is purpose-built for SME businesses. We offer patient, long-term (that is, up to 10 years) capital with realistic growth expectations and timeframes for exit set together with the businesses we invest in. We only take a minority share, so Australian small business owners like Justin and his team retain control. And we offer more than just capital; we are an active investor that provides ongoing strategic support and access to our network of international experts. Our position is to act as a catalyst for growth.”

ABGF is founded on a model established more than 10 years ago in the UK, to drive recovery and long-term growth as that economy emerged from the Global Financial Crisis. Since then, the UK Business Growth Fund (BGF) has invested £2.7 billion ($5.11 billion) in more than 400 companies.

 

Looking forward

Today, all eyes are on the Australian economy and how it will recover from the pandemic. And with SMEs accounting for 57 per cent of historical job growth, backing local businesses to thrive has never been more important.

Patrick Verlaine, co-head of investments at ABGF, reflects on the 3ME Technology investment to date: “3ME Technology has developed world-leading battery technology that will be instrumental in enabling heavy industries to decarbonise without compromising safety. The technology can be used very broadly across both static and vehicle applications, and will immediately benefit crucial Australian sovereign industries such as mining and defence. 3ME Technology is led by a very capable management team from military and mining backgrounds, and the injection of ABGF capital will allow the business to accelerate growth through investment in engineering staff, production facilities, expansion into new markets, additional R&D and marketing.”

Capital investment from ABGF will not just support 3ME Technology’s growth, it will also support jobs growth in highly skilled engineering and technical roles in the Hunter area. This is particularly important for a region with deep mining roots, and at a time when the mining industry is focused on decarbonisation in support of a greener future.

“ABGF is an excellent initiative, and we have learned a lot through the due diligence process,” says 3ME Technology’s head of growth, Steve Lawn. “Before contacting ABGF, we knew we had to be prepared. Clearly, if you want to raise a reasonable amount of money, you have to prove your product is sound and that you understand your market. The ABGF team listened to where we were as a business and crafted an offer that gave us the best shot to grow in a manner that would maintain our motivation to do so.”

 

Can ABGF help you?

In this new era for our economy, ABGF is ready to back Australian business. With its successful first investment underway, the fund is now building an ‘investment pipeline’ of companies with potential for growth. For SME businesses with over $2 million in revenue and a proven business model, ABGF is here to back your ambitions. Start the conversation with us here.