Breakthrough Energy Ventures

Breakthrough Energy Ventures


The goal of Breakthrough Energy is to make sure that everyone on the planet can enjoy a good standard of living, including basic electricity, healthy food, comfortable buildings, and convenient transportation, without contributing to climate change. Their strategy links cutting-edge, government-funded research to patient, risk-tolerant capital so that more clean energy innovations get to market faster.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition created Breakthrough Energy Ventures, an investor-led fund, to build the new, cutting-edge companies that will deliver on that promise.

Structure: Breakthrough Energy Coalition Coalition has brought together a unique group that includes private investors who are patient and risk tolerant, global corporations that produce or consume energy in vast quantities, and financial institutions with the capital necessary to finance the world’s largest infrastructure projects.

Geography: Global

Sectors: Electricity, Transportation, Agriculture, Manufacturing, Buildings


Bill Gates, Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, United States, Chair of the Breakthrough Energy Ventures Board

Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director,Reliance Industries Limited,India

John Arnold, Co-chair, Laura & John Arnold Foundation, United States

John Doerr, Chairman, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, United States

Vinod Khosla, Founder, Khosla Ventures, United States

Jack Ma, Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group, China

Hasso Plattner, Co-founder, SAP SE, Germany


Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO, Amazon, United States

HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Chairman, Alwaleed Philanthropies, Saudi Arabia

Michael Bloomberg, CEO, Bloomberg LP, United States

Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group, United Kingdom

Ray Dalio, Founder, Bridgewater Associates, United States

Reid Hoffman, Co-founder, LinkedIn, United States

Chris Hohn, Founder, The Children’s Investment Fund, United Kingdom

Dustin Moskovitz & Cari Tuna, Co-founders, Good Ventures, United States

Patrice Motsepe, Founder & Executive Chairman, African Rainbow Minerals (ARM), South Africa

Xavier Niel, Founder, Illiad Group, France

Julian Robertson, Founder & Chairman, Tiger Management, United States

David Rubenstein, Co-founder and Co-Executive Chairman, The Carlyle Group, United States

Nat Simons & Laura Baxter-Simons, Co-founders, Prelude Ventures, United States

Masayoshi Son, Founder, Chairman & CEO, SoftBank Group Corp., Japan

Ms. Zhang Xin & Mr. Pan Shiyi, Co-founder & CEO, Chairman, SOHO China, China

Global Health Investment Fund


The Global Health Investment Fund (GHIF) is a $108 million social impact investment fund designed to provide financing to advance the development of drugs, vaccines, diagnostics and other interventions against diseases that disproportionately burden low- and middle-income countries.  GHIF supports late-stage innovations for public health challenges such as malaria, pre-eclampsia, cholera, HIV and river blindness, with an emphasis on infectious diseases and maternal/infant health issues that cause significant morbidity and mortality in resource-limited settings.

Structure: Social Impact Investment Fund – mezzanine debt, convertible debt, preferred equity and project financing

Geography: Global

Size: Average $10 million


35 years of experience from the developing markets
Finnfund is a development financier which builds a sustainable world by investing in responsible and profitable businesses in developing countries.

They provide businesses operating in developing countries with risk capital, long-term investment loans, mezzanine financing and expertise on how to invest in the developing markets.

They expect our projects to be profitable, socially and environmentally responsible and produce measurable development impact in their target countries.

They put special emphasis on sectors that are critical to sustainable development, such as clean energy, sustainable forestry, sustainable agriculture and financial services, but we do invest in other sectors as well.

Finnfund invests in businesses that drive sustainable development, whether they are companies are already operational or in the process of being set up.

Every year, they make 20-30 new investments worth 150-200 million euros. At the end of 2017, Finnfund’s investments and commitments in 171 projects in 39 countries, totaling 719 million euros.

Sustainable forestry

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, FAO, estimates that in Africa alone, over two million hectares of forests is lost every year. Population growth, urbanisation and a growing middle-class adds pressure on the remaining natural forests.

Sustainable, responsible forestry is one key way to curb de-forestation and climate change. In for example Africa, it can already be seen that the timber produced through sustainable plantations is easing the pressure on natural forests.

Finnfund invests in commercial plantations and related industries, such saw mills and plywood mills.

At present Finnfund has invested some 100 million euros in ten forestry companies and funds.

Ilkka Norjamäki
Forester, Investment Manager

Beyond Impact Vegan Partners

Beyond Investing

Guest post from freelancer writer Gergana Mileva.Veganism’s surging popularity is now a global phenomenon. Big chains such as Marks & Spencer, Pret a Manger, and Pizza Hut are introducing a wide range of vegan options to their loyal patrons. Others are taking the plunge into veganism. Guinness, for example, decided to stop using fish bladders in their brewing process, after two and a half centuries of carrying out this practice.

While the traditional food industry is still trying to catch up, new competitors are also entering the market. All sorts of business startups and YouTube channels are supporting this movement and encouraging more and more people to embrace the plant-based lifestyle. So, what does this mean for the plant-based market?

Is 2019 the year of mainstream veganism?

I’ve asked some experts on vegan initiatives to shed some light on the future of this industry. Here, you will discover why the vegan market is worth investing in this coming year.

Claire Smith, CIO of Beyond Impact Advisors

Founder of Beyond Impact Advisors, Claire Smith is a vegan, an environmentalist, and an entrepreneur with 33 years of experience in finance and investment. She created a platform that empowers companies whose products contain vegan, cruelty-free, and plant-based alternatives instead of animal-derived material. Smith has been investing in sustainable consumer products since 2017.

I caught up with the amazing woman behind Beyond Impact Advisors to find out about the future of the vegan industry and why vegan businesses are worth investing in this 2019.

“In terms of opportunities in the vegan market, I have been conscious of the rising trend towards adopting plant-based diets since 2015,” she admitted. Initially, she created companies in food and accessories. The longer she worked in these industries, the more she realized that she had the potential to expand the vegan trend.

And so she did.

She started investing her own time and money to move the vegan market forward by empowering cruelty-free and eco-friendly companies to grow to scale.

Smith says that we have so much potential to diminish the exploitation of animals in products and services. By embracing alternative ingredients or methods, we can put an end to animal testing and animal-derived ingredients. Apart from practicing sustainable consumption, there are other ways of showing support for the vegan lifestyle. Technology, media, hospitality, and financial services, she says, are some of the areas where we can promote veganism.

Another factor that often encourages people to pursue a vegan lifestyle is a circular economy, where we maximize the use of plants. Smith is confident that we can improve the economics of plant-based businesses if we make better use of all plant parts instead of utilizing one part and discarding the rest or feeding them to animals, which, according to her, only provides an effective subsidy to animal agriculture.

When I asked about vegan investment opportunities in 2019, she said, “The timing is right for investing in alternatives to animal use since recent years have seen an explosion of expertise, within data analytics and machine learning for selection of plant properties, and within tissue engineering, cell culture, and bioprinting to enable the development of cellular agriculture, as well as synthetic biology directly producing those molecules that were formerly only created by living organisms.”

Smith believes that our effort to perfect these burgeoning technologies and reduce the cost of inputs would increase vegan products’ competitiveness against animal-derived items within three to five years. We could even save billions of animals in the process.

She also told me, “Concerns over climate change, environmental pollution, water shortage, as well as health risks of zoonotic diseases and ineffectiveness of antibiotics, are propelling governments to encourage the public to change their consumption habits and reduce the planetary load.”

With the World Health Organization labeling processed meat as a carcinogen, making it as unhealthy as a cigarette, Smith says that meat taxes and the removal of subsidies won’t be a distant prospect. Of course, that will be great for the future of the market. “Governmental support is critical in respect of novel foods legislation and approvals of cellular agriculture, especially in the face of opposition from vested interests.”

Massive Fund: Tackling Pollution

Massive Fund India

By Saur News Bureau/ Tue, Apr 23rd, 2019

India’s per capita consumption is at 1/3 of global standards. In effect, helping the world lower its overall energy consumption rather than increasing it. Plastic usage remains among the lowest, notwithstanding the visible pollution we see around us.

Shailesh Vikram Singh

Shailesh Vikram Singh, Managing Partner, Massive Fund

There is just 4% air conditioning penetration in India. As India moves up or catches up with the rest of the world on the development ladder, with a 10 trillion economy in its sights in the next 10 years, much like China in the 21st Century so far, there is tremendous demand emerging for housing, energy, food and transportation. A pattern visible in emerging economies in the world. Ordinarily, this creates a tremendous opportunity for capital to be deployed in these sectors and should have been welcome news for investors.

However, the reality is that today, the world is running scared of a continuing rise in per capita consumption in India and other emerging economies, calling it a serious threat to global environment. However unfair it may sound, there is more than a grain of truth in these claims.

Thus, it is clear that we cannot get our energy, food or transportation using the same framework or routes used by the western world. Existing and traditional models of power generation, distribution, air conditioning, housing, building infrastructure and more are not going to work and are potentially disastrous for the world. Imagine India, with its projected 1.5 billion people in next 10 years, consuming the same level of plastics., oil, building material, cars at the same level as of Norway or US or any other developed economy! Forget parity, even at a 50% per capita increase in consumption compared to the western standards will push things beyond point of no return as far as climate change is concerned. Of course, whether the resources even exist to deliver that level of consumption is doubtful. We have seen China build its massive infrastructure on a western model, but at far lower cost. Likewise what is needed in these sectors (energy, waste, mobility etc) is not just pure investment solutions but technology solutions that can help India and rest of the emerging world to have same standard of living without consuming same level of resources and that is the biggest opportunity.

Its an opportunity only if risk capital moves to these sectors. But can Capital really solve this? If one analyses the impact investments done in last 3 years, more than $500 billion have been deployed as impact capital in these sectors and issues related to poverty alleviation. So while regular VC funding might have been 2 to 3 times more than that of impact capital but still $500 billion odd capital is no change change. So what is the challenge?

The challenge seems to be more the nature and type of capital than amount of capital. As generally happens, noble intentions leads to not so noble outcomes. Likewise, the biggest investments in this sector have chased superior returns at lowest risk, hence, cutting out truly disruptive innovation.

Passionate teams working on solving large and complex problems without worrying about generating returns have missed out , there lies the problem.

Impact capital focus on doing good and not returns, so a lot of it is either in the form of grants or in the form of green bonds. Grants are grants while bonds do expect return of principle as well as a small interest payout, however low. So again, what is the challenge?

There are basic limitations with grants and climate bonds. Since grants are non repatriable capital, it creates a limit on available capital so by nature they remain small – grants in excess of $10 mn are almost unheard of, except 2/3 rare events in a year – compare this with the number of $10 mn rounds which happen in the startup world! So despite best intentions, grants fail to ensure supply of large capital to large problems they seek to solve, in a way ensuring a cycle of more ineffective grants. Teams have little or no incentive to build faster, better and cheaper solution or to put it in VC terminology, no alignment of interest. Hence the problems remain capital starved as well as entrepreneur deficient!

On the other hand, climate bonds have no such challenge. Huge amount of capital is raised through green bonds and there are many examples of super sized raises in past few years and it does help in funding large projects. However the challenge with bonds is that they are debt instrument and hence by very nature of it, remain risk averse and dependant on supporting equity as well as strength of balance sheet.

That means backing for the tried and tested. This risk averse capital drives away innovation as best outcomes are driven by risk capital and not debt. Imagine starting Google or Uber or Intel or payTM by raising debt where interest need to be paid quarterly!!

Hence while we do need all grants / climate bonds to make the basic layer to build basic infrastructure as well as support core research, the real need of the hour is risk capital which can fund innovative ideas and help entrepreneurs to take bold, moonshots in solving large problems.

Interestingly while VC/PE funds are still betting on consumer internet / consumption / b2b, there is massive shift going on among consumers / Govt with relation to adoption of clean tech. We all know of Tesla and big China push in EVs, but how many in the world know that there are already some 3 to 4 million odd e-rickshaws running in India and already $6/8 billion worth of e-rickshaws have been bought be poor people without any policy push or subsidy or grand plan, which is a super positive news.

So while we do need a lot of policy push, green bonds and grants, the real need is to have risk capital which can spur innovation and help us create the equivalent of a driver less car or billion transistors on a chip in clean energy / agri / waste management / mobility space as innovation always precede policy. Agriculture that uses 25% existing of water consumption levels, appliances that consume less and run on Ac and DC current equally well, cooling solutions that start with sustainable buildings and more. Unless risk capital backs challenges like these, the unfairness of being targeted for simply catching up with world levels of consumption will remain with us.

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Source: CBInsights




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