Billionaire philanthropist and technologist Bill Gatesis set to announce Monday the formation of a new fund with more than $1 billion to invest in technologies aimed at counteracting climate change. The Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund “will finance emerging energy breakthroughs that can deliver affordable and reliable zero carbon emissions,” the investors said in a statement. In a post on his Gates Notes blog, Gates said the fund will invest in “scientific breakthroughs that have the potential to deliver cheap and reliable clean energy to the world.”
The announcement of the fund comes a year after the United Nations climate change talks in Paris, where Gates unveiled the Breakthrough Energy Coalition – a group of some 20 billionaire business leaders from around the world, plus institutional investors, who committed to investing in new forms of energy. The coalition partnered with Mission Innovation, a group of 20 countries and the European Union that pledged to double their investment in clean energy research over five years. Gates calls the new Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund announced Monday the next step to the coalition formed in December 2015.
The Breakthrough Energy Ventures Fund includes John Doerr, chairman of venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla, Laura and John Arnold Foundation co-chair and former energy hedge fund manager John Arnold, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, and SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner.
“I am honored to work along with these investors to build on the powerful foundation of public investment in basic research,” BEV chairman Bill Gates said in a statement Sunday night. “Our goal is to build companies that will help deliver the next generation of reliable, affordable, and emissions-free energy to the world.”
The new fund is part of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which Gates launched in December 2015 in an effort to bring together a global group of investors who were committed to developing the nest-generation of energy technologies. The BEC was launched alongside Mission Innovation, a multi-billion clean energy research and development initiative on the opening day of the U.N. climate change summit in Paris. The countries participating in the initiative committed to doubling their clean energy technology research and development budgets by 2020 and private investors will boost their own investments in the sector.
BEV will help build companies based on the promising technologies that come out of these countries’ scaled-up public research pipelines, according to participants in the fund.
The new fund, which will have a 20-year lifespan, is designed to be both broad and scientific—two seemingly contradictory focuses—in its investment approach. The fund will not be confined to a specific segment of the investment pipeline, which means it will put money into startups at the earliest of stages all the way to companies that have reached commercialization. The fund will consider investments across a broad number of energy sectors, including electricity generation and storage, transportation, industrial system use, agriculture, and energy system efficiency.