Bill Gates-Led Fund Pledges to Invest $1 Billion in Startups Fighting Climate Change
These startups could transform the energy industry.
A Bill Gates-led investment fund is making a major commitment to clean energy by investing in a number of emerging companies, Quartz reports.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) plans to invest $1 billion into radical energy startups, experimenting in anything from hydropower to nuclear fusion that could dramatically reduce global emissions.
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BEV's first two investments are in Form Energy and Quidnet Energy, Quartz reports. Form Energy is creating new types of batteries that last weeks or months at a fraction of the cost compared to lithium ion batteries. Meanwhile, Quidnet Energy is developing technology to mimic the benefits of hydropower, which is a renewable alternative to carbon.
Seven more startups being funded by BEV were just announced by Quartz this morning.
The list includes QuantumScape, Commonwealth Fusion Systems, Pivot Bio, CarbonCure, Fervo Energy, DMC Biotechnologies, and Zero Mass Water — startups that all stand to be leaders in the fight against climate change.
BEV's portfolio focuses on startups that will lower emissions in five sectors — electricity, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and buildings. The nine companies announced so far each fit into one or more of these categories.
Despite the fact that funding energy startups tends to be a riskier, long-term betting game than investing in software companies, this is not the first time that Bill Gates has made a major investment in "tough tech." Funding energy startups demands more than monetary commitment from investors — it requires supporting scientists who are first-time entrepreneurs, Quartz reports.
"We are a unique fund with investors who are patient and flexible," says Rodi Guidero, executive director of BEV, told Quartz. "Our goal is to find the companies that will have the greatest impact on accelerating the energy transition and help them in whatever way we can," he said.
While BEV's initial list of investments includes a wide range of technologies, the portfolio is limited in other ways. So far, the startups receiving funding are all North American, and run primarily by white males, Quartz reports.
As energy startups gain traction in tackling climate change, they must also factor in the need for racial and gender diversity in the budding industry's entrepreneurial workforce. After all, climate change is a global issue and its solutions demand collaboration across cultures and national borders.
BEV is not the only investment fund to make a major investment in renewable energy. BlackRock Global Funds, Pictet Clean Energy, RobecoSAM Smart Energy Fund, and several others are also betting on the future of clean energy — and they are seeing good returns. Overall, the sector has seen a record amount of investment, with $280 billion in 2017. This provides hope that one day soon our economy will function to the benefit of the environment, rather than to its detriment.
Disclosure: Bill Gates is the co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a funding partner of Global Citizen.
Editor's note: This piece has been updated to include a disclosure that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a funding partner of Global Citizen. We regret the oversight.