In 2023 when Craig Swanger woke up from a three day coma, he understood that his thalamic stroke had been a life changing experience.

Right then though he probably didn’t know how it would change his investment interests and appetites. He certainly wasn’t aware that, coincidentally, while he had been asleep his long term investment partner and friend had called to ask Craig to be involved in the next phase of Stoic Venture Capital’s life story – his wife had things other than the business aspects of the phone call she had had with Guy Hedley to relay to him.

Craig and Guy have worked together for many years, since their time together at Macquarie Bank. Guy has expertise in the Asian markets environment. Craig is more deeply embedded in Australia’s domestic markets, he has had a long standing focus on fintech and property.

While impact investment – investing for profit but also for good – is important to Craig, he has historically stayed away from medical investments. Understanding the science and its life cycle to market is an important ingredient of success in this area of venture capital investment, and not something Craig has deep knowledge and experience in. By its nature, it is also generally at the longer term end of investment at 15 years, rather than his more normal 5-10 year horizon.

Guy is very clear when he talks about this area, ‘investing in science is hard. Finding things to invest in in that space is hard, and understanding the pattern of how these businesses develop and get off the ground takes experience. That is why Australia more broadly under-invests in science’.

However, as Craig started to recover from his stroke it became clear that his near death experience had changed his interest in becoming involved in the business of investing in life sciences.

Craig is very open that, at 50, he still felt nothing could harm him. The dramatic turn of events that he and his family went through was a harsh demonstration that isn’t the case – it made him appreciate that the research and medical developments into such things as cardiac health and ageing related issues aren’t just ‘for the oldies’.

He realised that we don’t know when or if we will need science to save our lives, or enhance the quality of life. He now feels strongly that, as Australia is good at the research but under invests in getting it to market, those that have skills that can support that process should get involved.

Craig says he has three rules when considering involvement in a project: work with people he respects, know where he adds value, learn something new.

Knowing that working with Guy and the team at Stoic would mean he was surrounded by people who are deeply embedded in technical side of life sciences, Craig decided he was in on the new fund. A new area of focus, with huge importance, and he believed that as a non-science nerd he would bring an alternative and intuitive perspective on the way the portfolios would be put together.

Craig is enjoying this new string to his bow and he says that although the medical research into cardiac conditions might have been his moment of realisation, it didn’t cause a bias in the conditions that Stoic All Stars invests in.

As a seasoned investor he does the work on the market. He says that the commercial opportunity for life science research across a broad spectrum is exciting. Along with the other Stoic founders, he believes that investing in ‘the world’s biggest challenges’ is sustainable financial model, in a way that many other forms of venture capital perhaps aren’t, in the face of the economic cycle, and in the long term. In addition to the needs globally resulting from ageing populations, there are a whole range of other science-based investment opportunities emerging from Australian universities, who punch above their weight medical research-wise.

As a final note Craig stresses his interest in that last point – bringing these medicines and treatments to the whole world. He highlights the importance to him of being part of a process that commercialises science sufficiently well in the developed world that it supports the building of clear pathways to sharing those with developing nations. ‘For the good of all mankind’.