Zuckerberg and Gates form new cleantech initiative

Steven Loeb · November 30, 2015 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/41b9

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition will invest in early stage startups in energy and agriculture

The clean energy space, or cleantech, was going to be the next big thing in the late part of the 2000s, or the aughts, or whatever you want to call them. Then it crashed, and numerous people have declared the space to be dead.

Well, leave it to some of the biggest names in technology to try to revive it.

On Sunday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, along with Bill Gates, have launched the Breakthrough Energy Coalition in order to invest in new clean energy technologies. 

"Solving the clean energy problem is an essential part of building a better world. We won't be able to make meaningful progress on other challenges -- like educating or connecting the world -- without secure energy and a stable climate. Yet progress towards a sustainable energy system is too slow, and the current system doesn't encourage the kind of innovation that will get us there faster," Zuckerberg wrote.

In addition to Zuckerberg and Gates, the organization's website lists a roster of heavy hitters in tech as members, including Marc Benioff, Founder and CEO of Salesforce; Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon; Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group;  John Doerr, General Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn; Vinod Khosla, Founder of Khosla Ventures; Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group; and Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

That is quite an impressive list.

Note: We are hosting our second annual Post Seed (#postseedconf) event on Dec. 1 at Ruby Skye in San Francisco, at which both Kholsa and Doerr will be speaking. The event - which we expect to draw more than 500 attendees - kicks off at 8 am and ends around 5 pm. We're excited to have Cory Johnson, anchor at Bloomberg West, broadcasting live from 7 am to 11 am PST. It should be a riveting day! Register here: Post Seed 2015.

To help drive clean energy he organization will invest in early stage cleantech companies, from angel to Series A, in sectors that include electricity generation and storage; transportation; industrial use; agriculture; and energy system efficiency.

"The most transformative ideas are emerging out of research institutions and the great capital gap is in getting these ideas out of the lab and on the path to commercialization," The Breakthrough Energy Coalition says on its website. 

"We are looking for outliers both in developing novel technologies AND in innovations which enable current technologies to be dramatically more efficient, scalable, or cheaper. Whether core or enabling technology, the key differentiating factor must be a credible pathway to rapid scaling – providing affordable energy to the greatest number of people without overburdening essential resources including land use."

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition will be investing in countries participating in Mission Innovation, an international initiative that is dedicated to getting governments to increase investments in cleantech in order to foster innovation. There are 20 countries currently in the initiative, from all continents, including Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates, Chile, Brazil, Sweden, Germany, South Korea, India and China.

Certain details regarding the investments coming from The Breakthrough Energy Coalition were not specified, including the size of its fund, how many investments it will make and how much it will be investing. VatorNews has reached out to the Breakthrough Energy Coalition for further information regarding its investments in the space. We will update this story if we learn more. 

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition is being launched as world leaders prepare for the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris this week, and the members are hoping that "this will encourage more partners to make innovation a priority in the fight against climate change," said Zuckerberg.

"We already invest in renewable and clean energy for our Facebook facilities today, but we believe that building a positive future for the next generation also means investing in long term projects that companies and governments don’t fund."

Cleantech is worthy idea, if maybe not a super profitable one. Hopefully the combined power of these contributors can help bring it back.

(Image source: futurosostenibile.org)

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Khosla Ventures

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Khosla Ventures offers venture assistance, strategic advice and capital to entrepreneurs. The firm helps entrepreneurs extend the potential of their ideas in both traditional venture areas like the Internet, computing, mobile, and silicon technology arenas but also supports breakthrough scientific work in clean technology areas such as bio-refineries for energy and bioplastics, solar, battery and other environmentally friendly technologies. Vinod was formerly a General Partner at Kleiner Perkins and founder of Sun Microsystems. Vinod has been labeled the #1 VC by Forbes and Fortune recently labeled him as one the nation's most influential ethanol advocates, noting "there are venture capitalists, and there's Vinod Khosla." Vinod Khosla founded the firm in 2004.


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