Conrad Crisafulli helped Harold Clough set up one of Perth's first venture capital funds.

Perth tech pioneer passes away

Monday, 24 July, 2017 - 15:09

Conrad Crisafulli, who was one of the pioneers of venture capital investing and technology commercialisation in Western Australia, has died after a long illness.

Mr Crisafulli had been an adviser and director of multiple technology companies, including as commercial director of QPSX Communications through the 1990s.

This was an early example of R&D from Perth universities being successfully commercialised in the global market.

He subsequently ran advisory firm TechStart Australia, which was backed by Perth engineering icon Harold Clough, and was a director of Tech Start's venture capital fund, Add Venture Capital.

Through the 2000s, Mr Crisafulli established and ran the IP commercialisation office at Curtin University, along with a seed fund to support new technology based businesses.

Rohan McDougall, who succeeded Mr Crisafulli as director of IP Commercialisation at Curtin, said he facilitated the establishment and funding of numerous tech businesses including Scanalyse Holdings, Neuromonics, Sensear, Sea Gyro, Virtual Observer, Cool Energy and more.

"He was a generous mentor and a fun and enthusiastic contributor to many organisations, causes and initiates," Mr McDougall said.

Company director Graham Griffiths had a long association with Mr Crisafulli at QPSX, which evolved into listed company ipernica and more recently nearmap, as well as at TechStart and Curtin.

"Conrad was a pioneer of Perth's emerging tech scene in the ’80s and ’90s, nurturing and mentoring many of Perth's early stage tech companies," Mr Griffiths said.

"A true gentleman and selfless contributor."

Capital Technologies director Paul Kristensen said Mr Crisafulli left a legacy in two fields.

"Conrad had a deep understanding of technology and of the many challenges in successfully commercialising technology internationally," he said.

"His leadership as director of IP Commercialisation at Curtin University laid the foundations for that university's success in commercialising important research developed at Curtin."

"He shall be sorely missed, both as a person and as a top-class professional."

Mr Crisafulli's other field of endeavour was the Rotary movement, where he was a co-founder of the innovative Rotary Club of Crawley.

"He leaves an important legacy for Rotary, having established a very successful, modernised club format that has already served as a template for other Rotary clubs internationally," Mr Kristensen said.

Mr Crisafulli passed away on Sunday and is survived by his wife of 44 years, Bethne, and their children.