Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the International Development Journal, an online journal offering a platform to engage in debate and discussions on global policies and current affairs.
A desire “to provide reliable and affordable power without contributing to climate change” has resulted in the recent launch of the Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) Fund. It has been launched by a Coalition of investors who “Are committed to helping accelerate the cycle of innovation through investment, partnership, and thought leadership.”
Many of the world’s most well-known investors and philanthropists are involved in the fund and come from all over the world. Some of them include Jeff Bezos, the Founder and CEO of Amazon, Michael Bloomberg, a former Mayor of New York City, Richard Branson of the Virgin Group, Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Patrice Motsepe, a South African industrialist, Hasso Plattner, founder of SAP, Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook and the University of California.
The BEV Fund’s Board and management team will decide where and how to invest funds based on four criteria. Proposals submitted to the fund can adhere to one or more of the investment criteria. The first criterion is that the technologies submitted must be able to have a positive impact on the climate and have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least half a gigaton. Secondly, companies will be considered for investment if they have strong potential to attract capital and sources outside of the BEV Fund. Thirdly, the fund will invest in technologies that have already been scientifically proven and can be meaningfully advanced. Finally, companies will be invested in if they can ‘fill the gaps’ and “need the unique attributes of BEV capital, including patience, judgement by scientific milestones, flexible investment capabilities, and a significant global network.”
The fund encourages collaboration between governments and the private sector. It recognises that “Only our governments have both the mandate to protect the public interest and the resources and mechanisms to do this” but argues that “Government research is not enough.” The expertise, skills and resources of the private sector are also required because “The private sector knows how to build companies, evaluate the potential for success, and take the risks that bring innovative ideas to the world.”
Ultimately, the investors involved in the BEV Fund believe that “Success requires a partnership of increased government research in a transparent, workable structure that can evaluate projects objectively, and committed private-sector investors willing to support the innovative ideas that come out of the public research pipeline.”
Presently, the BEV Fund’s board and management team are not considering any unsolicited investment opportunities at the current point in time. This will happen in due course and further information about the BEV Fund and how to apply for funding will be posted on the Fund’s website.