The Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund will invest in energy storage technology.
The venture is backed by Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, an English business magnate, investor and philanthropist. He is the founder of the Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies.
It includes John Doerr, chairman of venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla, Laura and John Arnold Foundation co-chair and former energy hedge fund manager John Arnold, 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 to Fortune. “Our goal is to build companies that will help deliver the next generation of reliable, affordable, and emissions-free energy to the world.”
Other blue chip business leaders are backing the fund including Jack Ma, a Chinese business magnate who is the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group and Mukesh Ambani, an Indian business magnate who is the chairman, managing director and largest shareholder of Reliance Industries Limited.
Get this, the combined net worth of the entire board is $170 billion. That’s some serious backing!
Gates says technology innovation should be seen as a climate change solution. He is also chairman of the nuclear energy startup called TerraPower.
Investment in large scale energy research has traditionally been a government role, but today, private investors are stepping in to build on government seed funding.
They are working with leading researchers and expert advisers to drive their program.
Gates also wants to get other energy companies involved in BEV as a 20-year investment strategy and long-term energy outlook.
The group says this gives it more scope to invest in areas avoided by traditional VCs
H/T: World Economic Forum