Not new to investing in early stage and high-risk energy ventures himself, Bill Gates has now recruited an impressive line-up of billionaire investors to join in creating a new $1 billion investment fund to finance early research in big early stage ideas in the field of clean energy.
“The Microsoft co-founder and his all-star line-up of fellow investors plan to announce tomorrow the Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund, which will begin making investments next year. The BEV fund, which has a 20-year duration, aims to invest in the commercialization of new technologies that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in areas including electricity generation and storage, transportation, industrial processes, agriculture, and energy-system efficiency.”
The 20-year lifespan of the fund enables investors to focus on long-term value over a short-term return on investment. It will open up capital to companies that may have more difficulties raising funds. Gates described the investor segment as “uncrowded.”
Considering the wealth behind the lineup of investors in the new fund, it wouldn’t be surprising if the $1 billion figure eventually goes up.
The investors include Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Virgin’s Richard Branson, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, venture capitalists John Doerr and Vinod Khosla, former energy hedge fund manager John Arnold, and SAP cofounder Hasso Plattner.
Gates’ private fund is created just one year after he helped launch Mission Innovation, where 22 countries and the European Union aim to double investment in clean energy research over five years to accelerate the clean energy revolution. The billionaire entrepreneur praised government investments in early technology research, which he described as having helped launched the digital revolution, an effect he hopes to recreate for the clean energy revolution.
The US is among the countries participating in Mission Innovation, but it doesn’t look good for the program since President-Elect Donal Trump promised to stop all federal funding of clean technology research during the campaign.
Gates on energy innovation: