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Eli Lilly invests in $250M Australian venture fund

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The Australian state of Queensland and Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. have created a $250 million venture capital fund to expand and develop the biotechnology industry, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said in a statement.

Lilly has pledged up to 20 percent of the fund, while the Queensland government has contributed $25 million. Other unnamed strategic U.S. investors have also agreed to participate, according to a Queensland government press release.

The unnamed venture fund will be based in Brisbane, and will focus on biotechnology investments in Australia and southeastern Asia.

Lilly has had a presence in Australia for 50 years. It has several partnership deals in the state of Queensland and has invested in one start-up there: St. Lucia-based Protagonist Pty., in 2006. Lilly spokesman Mark Taylor said that by investing in the fund, the company will formalize and deepen its relationship to the region.

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