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Slattery launches Soda, Australia’s new digital investment vehicle

Bevan Slattery.jpg

Entrepreneur Bevan Slattery has unveiled Soda, his new launchpad for investments in Australia’s digital infrastructure and sustainability.

A Soda spokesperson told Capacity, that the new structure "reflects an evolution that had been underway within Capital[b] (Slattery's previous investment vehicle) for some time."

Soda, which stands for Slattery Office of Digital Assets, formalises the group’s strategic vision to focus on innovation and investment in three core pillars across the country.

"Organising the Soda operations under three distinct pillars provides greater clarity of our direction heading into the future, for both our team and our partners," added the spokesperson.

The first pillar is SODA Infrastructure, which is focused on the development and investment in Australia’s digital infrastructure and in the Indo-Pacific region. Previous investments include Indigo, the 9,000km Sydney to Singapore subsea cable being developed with Google, Telstra, Singtel, Superloop and AARNET.

The Oman Australia Cable, a 10,000km subsea cable connecting Perth to Muscat, and HyperOne, Australia’s new $1.5 billion 20,000km digital fibre backbone.

“I’ve always been drawn to solving some of the big problems in Australia’s digital infrastructure, having built data centres, submarine cables, competitive fibre networks, cloud interconnection platforms, and what I can see is that demand for these assets continues to grow exponentially. In fact, COVID-19 has accelerated demand even further,” said Slattery.

“We don’t just need to catch up, we need to get ahead of the curve to make sure we are ready for this continued growth.”

The second pillar is Soda Ventures which will invest and support Australian tech entrepreneurs and high growth businesses looking to execute a global growth strategy. Part of this strategy includes a significant stake in FiberSense, an Australian based company developing vibration detection and ranging sensor technology.

When asked as to whether this will also include any M&A activities, the Soda spokesperson explained that Soda Ventures "will take strategic capital positions in innovative platforms and support those businesses with their broader strategic initiatives, which in some circumstances will include mergers and acquisitions and capital raisings".

In addition, they confirmed that Soda Ventures will look to support relevant businesses across the "broader tech space" meaning they won't exclusively operate within the telecoms/digital infrastructure/communications space.

"In recent years Bevan has built stakes in several ASX-listed small caps, including Pointerra (3DP), IntelliHR (IHR) and Rent.com.au (RNT)," they added.

“Having built a series of startups over the past few decades, we are fortunate to have plenty of experience in funding, building and scaling technology businesses. Soda Ventures is a platform in which we can help fuel the growth for some of Australia’s amazing entrepreneurs,” said Slattery.

The third pillar is sustainability, an area that Slattery has long been passionate about particularly the application of technology in this field. The first project aims to establish one million square metres of environmentally tolerant reef. Slattery has been working with universities on this project and aims to have the research and development stages completed over the next few years.

Additionally, over the last 10 years Slattery’s company Biopixel has been building the largest online digital video library of the Great Barrier Reef and provides content for companies such as BBC, National Geographic, Amazon, Netflix and Discovery.

“One of the most valuable things about Biopixel is that we are providing some of the most extraordinary imagery to story-tellers who can help share what is happening on the Great Barrier Reef," said Slattery.

"However, what is less well understood is that Bipixel documents natural history over time and as a result we are able see and study first-hand the effects of climate change on the reef through our vast library over the years which helps us better understand what areas are more or less impacted and why.

“It’s vital that we do everything we can to secure a future for the Great Barrier Reef, from both an environmental and economic perspective. We also need to use science, innovation and green industrialisation on a scale not seen before.”

Soda has targeted to become carbon neutral-across the entire group by the end of 2023, through direct investment in renewable infrastructure with an initial megawatt solar array planned in the second half of 2022.

“I believe if you talk-the-talk, you need to walk-the-walk rather than greenwash through some dubious “carbon credits”. I want to make sure we are directly investing in renewable energy infrastructure to reach zero net emissions in the next two years,” added Slattery.

This commitment extends to Soda's current and future portfolio, including Asia Pacific Data Centres Trust, iSeek, Megaport, Superloop, and PIPE Networks.

"Sustainability will be a key element of all that we do and will be engrained in our investment and portfolio management process," said the Soda spokesperson.

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