A tribute and farewell to Mike Hirshorn

With great sadness, we learnt that our Director and Venture Capital Investor, Dr Mike Hirshorn, passed away on November 18, 2011 after a long battle with cancer.

Mike had been a Director of TGR since he first invested in our company in 2005 through his venture capital fund, Nanyang Innovation Fund.   Ever since, he has been a tireless supporter of TGR, providing us with the unparalled benefit of his 30 years experience in establishing, building and investing in biotechnology companies.  He brought us much more than investment dollars – we also gained his mentorship, enthusiasm, encouragement, attention to detail and capacity to think outside the square.  We particularly appreciated his unwavering support during the difficult period when TGR changed directions following an inconclusive clinical trial.

Mike initially trained as a medical doctor.  After a brief stint in medical practice, his passion for commercial application of science led him into the corporate sector and to complete formal qualifications in business and finance.  His accomplishments have been many.  He can truly be considered a pioneer of Australia’s medical devices sector, with achievements including founder and CEO of Cochlear Ltd and co-founding director of Resmed,  two global leading medical device companies.  His impact on commercialisation of medical technology has been widely recognised through appointment to numerous industry and government boards, membership of the Young Presidents’ Organisation, and prestigious awards including the 1988 BRW Businessman of the Year for Technology and a 2004 Order of Australia Medal.

More  recently, Mike resolved to use his experience to help foster the development of the Australian biotech industry.  This led him to take up a new career in venture capital.  As remarked by TGR’s former chairman, Bob Moses – “You could connect with Mike because his integrity and lack of any pretence was immediately obvious…..  Those wishing to succeed in either or both technology development and funds management could do no better than to try to emulate Mike Hirshorn.”

Mike bravely battled with his cancer for over a decade.   It never ceased to amaze us that he could consider his health so objectively, and not let it interfere with his work.  In fact, many of his associates were unaware of his illness until a very late stage.

Everyone at TGR will miss Mike’s wonderful leadership, guidance, wit and friendship.  An extremely hard man to replace!  Farewell and many thanks, Mike.