Bill Gates touts €100 million venture fund for Breakthrough Energy Ventures Europe

One of the companies in Breakthrough Energy Ventures’ portfolio is Sweden’s Baseload Capital, which invests in geothermal facilities including Varmaorka in Iceland. (Photo Courtesy of Baseload Capital)

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is celebrating the official launch of Breakthrough Energy Ventures Europe, an investment fund that aims to boost clean-energy innovation in Europe to the tune of 100 million euros. That translates to $112 million at the current rate of exchange.

Half of the money is coming from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program, via a financing channel known as InnovFin. The other half is coming from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the $1 billion fund backed by Gates and other heavyweight investors including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Softbank Group CEO Masayoshi Son, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures was created in 2016 to invest in zero-carbon energy technologies, and it’s laid down bets on 15 ventures since then. But most of those ventures are based in the U.S. and Canada. Breakthrough Energy Ventures Europe, or BEV-E, will make sure Europe is well-represented on the clean-energy frontier.

BEV-E, which launched this month, is the result of an agreement struck between the European Commission and Breakthrough Energy last October. If the range of investment follows the model set for the wider Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund, you can expect to see backing for technologies including grid-storage systems, geothermal energy, next-generation batteries, sustainable food products, carbon sequestration and biofuel production.

Gates talked up the European connection today in a tweet:

And that’s not all: Natural Resources Canada says it will invest up to 30 million Canadian dollars ($22.2 million U.S.) in a new initiative called Breakthrough Energy Solutions Canada, created in partnership with Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Canadian companies and entrepreneurs can apply for funding through Sept. 11.

“This investment brings us one step closer to a prosperous clean energy future — one where we protect the environment, boost the economy and create good jobs for Canadians,” Amarjeet Sohi, Canada’s minister of natural resources, said in a statement.

Gates also had good words for the Canadian initiative. “Collaboration across the public and private sectors is a powerful way to advance the energy innovations and companies needed for a carbon-free future,” he said. “We are hopeful that this Breakthrough Energy partnership with Canada will be a model for developing more collaborations that will help reach this goal.”

Sohi unveiled the initiative on Monday during the Clean Energy and Mission Innovation Ministerial meetings in Vancouver, B.C. The meetings are bringing together energy ministers, industry executives and investors from more than two dozen countries to talk about ways to take advantage of clean-energy technologies.

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