Venture Capital: Bill Gates-Backed, CleanTech VC Raises $1B

This funding doubles the size of Breakthrough Energy Ventures, positioning it for its second round of investments.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) is a venture capital firm that invests in cleantech. The term describes companies (or technologies) that aim to improve environmental sustainability including the negative impact of conventional technologies such as coal-fired power. It was established in 2015 by Bill Gates and a coalition of private investors concerned about climate change. The firm has just raised $1 billion (its second raise of that amount) from unnamed investors. (Bloomberg)

Different investing strategy

BEV used its initial corpus of $1 billion to fund a clutch of 45 startups. They were drawn from a diverse set of sectors including lithium mining, energy storage, nuclear fusion, electric aviation, synthetic palm oil, and zero-carbon steel.

The firm’s investing strategy is different from the typical VC fund. Instead of a time frame of around five years, it invests for the long haul. The “patient” fund can wait for returns for as long as 20 years and it focuses on CO2 emissions as well as ultimate profitability.

Eligible startups must demonstrate that they can ultimately cut a minimum of 500 million tons of CO2 emissions annually.

This is in line with BEV’s commitment to scale technologies to achieve a path to net zero emissions by 2050.

The new round

The money from the latest funding will flow to another 40 – 50 startups. BEV intends to focus on the more difficult climatic challenges emanating from industries such as steel, cement, and long-haul transport. It will also support new technologies such as direct air capture and hydrogen.

Where there is a dearth of startups, BEV will not hesitate to roll up its sleeves and launch its own new companies.

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