I’m Beverley Gower-Jones, Managing Partner of the Clean Growth Fund. I’m here to tell you a bit about the Clean Growth Fund (CGF): who we are, what we do and how you can potentially get involved.
The £40 million CGF launched on 21st May 2020. It is a venture capital fund and was created to support the UK’s most ambitious low carbon innovators. We want to invest in those early-stage clean growth start-ups that will accelerate the UK’s transition to Net Zero by 2050. We are looking for disruptive, high growth, cleantech companies that will drive the green economy forward.
I strongly believe that innovation is key in the transition to a low carbon economy. It is crucial in decarbonising across the power, waste, transport, buildings and industry sectors. It is in these sectors that the costs of cutting emissions are high and the progress to reduce emissions has been slow.
I’ve worked with hundreds of small, entrepreneurial technology companies led by driven and passionate individuals. Their innovation can make a difference. But innovation needs investment. We might have the prototype technology, but if it takes another 5 years to develop, that is 5 years too long.
With this firm belief in mind, I started working on the concept of a low carbon venture fund back in 2016. In 2018, the Government recognised the need in its Clean Growth and Green Finance Strategies, and its commitment is welcomed across the political spectrum.
I am delighted to say that everyone’s hard work paid off and the Clean Growth Fund is the hugely exciting result.
Who are we?
The CGF was founded with equal investment from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and institutional investor CCLA, one of the UK’s largest charity fund managers.
BEIS elected Clean Growth Investment Management LLP (CGIM) to manage the Fund, with me as Managing Partner.
I lead a team consisting of venture capital experts NorthStar Ventures and the incubation consultancy Carbon Limiting Technologies (CLT). As co-founder of CLT, I’ve learnt a huge amount about what makes the difference between success and failure for green tech entrepreneurs and I understand what kind of support they really need.
As Managing Partner of the CGF, I’m responsible for the Fund’s investment strategy and delivering the best returns for our investors. My ambition is to grow this fund to £100 million by the end of 2021, adding £60 million of extra private investment to the current £40 million pot.
This is not just a financial investment
When the CGF invests, we will provide not only a cash injection, but our years of expertise too. We combine decades of experience in the cleantech sectors with strong relationships in the investment and corporate community, providing market access to support rapid growth for those in our portfolio.
We are passionate about accelerating low carbon entrepreneurs and investing in early stage technology companies. We are already assessing the most promising businesses in order to invest in them and help them to scale up. As a team, we have a deep understanding of disruptive clean technologies, as well as an ability to recognise those companies that will have a large impact on the growing low carbon economy.
CLT currently delivers incubation support to companies receiving grant funding from BEIS’s Energy Entrepreneurs Fund grant programme. This dramatically increases their chances of success. Companies on the programme often say the support is as valuable as the grant itself.
What are we looking for?
Disruptive technologies have the power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or improve resource efficiency across power, transport, industry, buildings, waste and water.
Take, for example, the power sector. There have been huge strides forward in smart grid capability, including demand side response technologies, load aggregation and smart internet enabled technologies. This has upped the proportion of renewables on the National Grid.
Likewise, green technology is set to have a big impact on the way the construction industry operates. For example, the modular design, fabrication and construction of buildings using panelised timber solutions, and built offsite can deliver significant improvements in energy efficiency.
CGF will invest across the technology spectrum, including hardware, software, process systems, materials, deep tech and business model innovations, capable of driving real and rapid change.
The Fund seeks to gain substantial financial return for its investors. These innovations must be sustainable in order to have a real impact. To that end, we are focusing on early stage, commercially viable companies with a global outlook and scalable solutions.
1. Does your innovative technology substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
2. Does your company have an outstanding management team?
3. Do you have a pilot or alpha prototype that successfully demonstrates the technical feasibility of your product or service?
4. Do you have compelling evidence of market traction and engagement?
If you answered yes to all 4 questions, then you should seriously consider applying for investment from the CGF. for a breakdown of the sectors we invest in and of our investment philosophy and criteria.
Collaborating with buyers and suppliers
We strongly encourage entrepreneurs to find buyers committed to purchasing their product or service. This makes it easier to trial products or to collaborate with users in developing new technologies. It also gives investors (such as the CGF!) confidence to invest. Investors understand that as the product is purchased and production is scaled, costs should fall and profits rise. It’s a win-win situation.
The CGF is not the be all and end all. Often, the best place to look for investors is from within your own supply chain. Your suppliers might want to invest in your business if they think it will be successful. An increase in your production equals the opportunity to sell more supplies to you.
Time to act
UK businesses have a vital role to play in laying the ground for COP 26, which will be hosted in Glasgow next year. As the next major international summit after Paris, COP 26 is pivotal. If we can demonstrate the UK’s commitment to CO2 reduction, it will propel other countries to commit to Net Zero by 2050.
With the UK’s green recovery plans, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity not only to boost economic activity and create jobs, but to accelerate the transformation to a sustainable future.