Berlin, 26 October: World Fund, Europe’s biggest climate tech venture capital fund, is launching a €350 million fund targeting startups building technology that can help decarbonize the planet. With nearly 60 investors including current and former European tech founders, World Fund has been initiated by global search engine Ecosia and will be the largest climate tech fund on the continent, focused on the tech that can reduce carbon emissions across sectors including energy, transport, food and agriculture, manufacturing and buildings.
Launched in 2021, World Fund brings together a diverse team of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, communications experts, scientists, and engineers to source and support the next generation of climate tech companies tackling the most pressing issue of our time.
Rising temperatures, increasing sea levels and chronic wildfires are all symptoms of the crisis brought on by escalating greenhouse gas emissions. The urgency of action required by the crisis, together with the scale of the problem, is creating unparalleled interest in climate tech investment, with the market estimated to be worth €5trn in value according to think tank Climate180.
World Fund aims to be the foremost investor backing European founders building tech solutions to tackle climate change. The fund aims to invest in the companies with the highest climate performance potential (CPP) from early to growth stage. From companies creating alternative proteins to energy storage solutions and smart charging infrastructure as a service, World Fund will target the disruptive companies with the potential to become market leaders.
World Fund’s mission is to save 2 gigatons of emissions by 2040 - the equivalent to 4% of all global emissions. With this commitment, World Fund is putting the health of the planet at the core of every decision it makes, considering that climate returns are an early indicator for financial returns.
The fund measures and assesses the CPP as a key leading indicator for funding. Each company World Fund backs will need to be able to demonstrate it has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 100 megatonnes CO2e every year. Only companies enabling a decarbonized world can become the most valuable companies of the next decade.
Europe is a prime location to launch a climate tech-focused fund. Only €6bn of venture capital invested in climate tech since 2013 went to European companies compared to €25bn and €17bn invested in the US and China respectively. This is despite 50% more climate tech patents coming from the continent than the US and China between 2019 and 2020, and organizations funding climate research such as the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 fund contributing €33bn to climate-relevant R&D. As well, there were more climate tech companies founded in Europe (102) between 2019 and 2021, than the US and China combined (80).
The need for venture capital in climate tech is overwhelming - a recent study by the German Energy Agency found that Germany alone needs €22.7bn in order to deliver a positive climate impact by 2030. Yet there is a lack of deep-pocketed funds in Europe that invest specifically in climate tech compared to countries like the US. There are 41 funds in North America with more than $100 million assets under management, compared to only six in Europe, and the majority of European climate tech VC funds have less than $40m to back disruptive technology.
World Fund is well-placed to offer as the continent’s biggest climate tech VC. The team has a unique track record of building, scaling, and investing in outstanding businesses. The general partners are Tim Schumacher, co-founder of the world’s largest domain marketplace Sedo and investor in companies including Ecosia, Zolar, gridX, Pachama and CarbonCloud; Danijel Visevic, a former journalist who covered climate tech, startups and venture capital, worked for Angela Merkel and was the director of communications at Project A Ventures, one of Europe’s most successful VCs; and Daria Saharova, who spent 15 years investing in startups such as gridX, at leading European venture capital funds. The team of partners also includes Craig Douglas, who has worked in climate investing for over 10 years, primarily at SET Ventures, with notable investments including Sonnen, the world leader in home energy storage, and Limejump; and Christian Kroll as a venture partner, the founder and CEO of Ecosia.
The investment team includes experts such as mechanical and chemical engineers, physicists, and a mathematician. The whole World Fund team is supported by a wider network of about 60 LPs, including Ecosia, Trivago co-founder Rolf Schrömgens; Econos, a digital sustainability investment platform backed by Alexander Samwer's and Jeremias Heinrich's Pelion Green Future; serial female entrepreneur and author Verena Pausder and her husband Philipp Pausder, the founder of Thermondo.
In addition, a leading scientific and advisory board including Max Planck Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship Professor director Dietmar Harhoff (who is also advising the German government and is a recipient of the Bundesverdienstkreuz - Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany); academic director and Scientists for Future founder Dr Gregor Hagedorn; and Deputy Head of Responsible Research at Fraunhofer Institute Simone Kaiser help advise World Fund, while validating its portfolio companies’ scientific methods and working closely with the companies to make sure they have every chance of success.
Tim Schumacher, General Partner at World Fund, said: “I’ve been investing in technology for over ten years now, both in regular software and in climate tech, and during that time my climate investments outperformed my other investments. Undoubtedly, one of the reasons for this is the caliber of people attracted to working on the largest problem humanity faces. At World Fund, we recognize that to tackle climate change, investing in new technology needs to be profitable and scalable.”
Danijel Višević, General partner, World Fund said: “Europe urgently needs to stop continuing business as usual, relying on the continued use of fossil fuels. This continent has the research, innovation and political awareness to lead the world in the fight against climate change. However, until now, there hasn’t been the venture support to ensure these solutions go from idea to success. This is why we’re launching the World Fund, to be the ultimate partner to back the tech entrepreneurs of Europe that will create the most valuable companies of the next decade while tackling the climate crisis.”
Daria Saharova, General Partner at World Fund, said: “There’s a huge opportunity to back the startups helping to roll back the clock on the climate crisis and transform the way whole sectors operate. From farming startups to battery technology, startups addressing climate change need more funds with deep pockets and a commitment to support dynamic companies, to ensure they can fulfil their potential. The World Fund will fill a need in Europe for larger pools of capital dedicated to achieving solutions to the climate crisis.”
Craig Douglas, Partner at World Fund, said: “Europe has so much untapped potential to offer in the climate tech world. Passionate and innovative entrepreneurs are creating the deep technologies that will be vital to transforming the world and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They need the support and investment to scale these solutions to create a global impact. That’s why World Fund was created, we understand the challenges facing these entrepreneurs and believe in their mission, and we’ll be by their side to help make it a reality.”
Christian Kroll, CEO of Ecosia and venture partner, World Fund said: “We need to create a future where billionaires won’t be those who just accumulate money but those who actively build solutions that save billions of tonnes of CO2 emissions. I’m confident that we can do that with World Fund, by harnessing the talent and ambitions in the European tech community to fight the climate crisis and advocate for the systemic change that is badly needed if we’re to successfully curb global emissions. I’m also delighted that my fellow European founders and entrepreneurs are supporting World Fund as we embark on this ambitious mission.”
Theresa Hauck, Co-Founder Econos: "Climate action creates a huge potential for companies, founders, and investors. We see World Fund in a great position to tap into this potential."
World Fund is a new European-focused climate venture capital fund established by Daria Saharova, Danijel Višević, Craig Douglas, Christian Kroll and Tim Schumacher. From energy, food, agriculture, and land use, to building materials, manufacturing and transport, the World Fund is investing in tech startups with the highest climate performance potential who will become the most valuable companies of the next decade.
Headquartered in Berlin, Germany, Ecosia is the world’s largest not-for-profit search engine. It has planted more than 120 million trees across 26 countries worldwide. In 2014 Ecosia was accredited as a B Corporation and in 2017 it built the first of its four solar plants to ensure it is 100% renewable, reaching 200% renewable in July 2020. In 2018 Ecosia gave away its shares to the Purpose Foundation, to assure that it can never be sold and that no one, including the founder, can profit or receive dividends from the company. Ecosia was founded by Christian Kroll in 2009.
Visit https://info.ecosia.org/ to learn more.
Tim Schumacher, General partner:
Tim Schumacher is one of Europe’s foremost entrepreneurs and investors. He co-founded the world’s largest domain marketplace Sedo.com in 2001 before founding Eyeo - the makers of Adblock Plus. He has also invested in companies such as Ecosia, gridX, Zolar, Pachama and CarbonCloud and won Best Male Investor at the German Startup Awards 2020. He joins World Fund as a general partner to further his personal mission to back startups that will help fight the climate crisis.
Danijel Visevic, General partner:
Danijel Visevic is a recognised climate tech thought leader investing in startups that promise the highest financial and climate returns. Before initiating the World Fund, he worked for Project A, one of Europe's most successful venture capitalists. Before that, he was co-responsible for the audio-visual appearance of Angela Merkel and worked as a journalist focussing on climate tech, startups and venture capital.
Daria Saharova, General partner:
Recently awarded Best Female Investor by Bundesverband Deutsche Startups e.V (German Startup Awards), Daria builds on 20 years of experience in entrepreneurship and finance. Before initiating the World Fund, she built the first German-based proptech and energy tech VC. Daria is an expert advisor to the European Commission and maintains a close relationship with international tech thought leaders as co-founder of the think tank 1E9 Denkfabrik.
Craig Douglas, partner:
Craig Douglas has been investing in climate tech companies over the past 10 years at one of Europe’s longest-running climate funds SET Ventures, where he specialised in new energy business models, built environment, energy distribution and storage; and transportation. In addition, Craig has pioneered ESG and Impact in the venture community after creating a leading ESG framework in 2012 as well as co-designing a model which links impact to fund performance and compensation in 2018, which is now used by over 30 funds. Craig actively advises funds on implementing their own ESG and impact activities in addition to his role as partner at World Fund.
Christian Kroll, venture partner:
Christian Kroll runs the world’s largest environmentally aware search engine Ecosia, which uses its profits from searches to plant trees. He came up with the idea for Ecosia while travelling in Nepal and then South America. Christian was shocked to find himself driving for miles and miles in vast soy plantations where rainforests used to exist. This gave him the determination to start Ecosia in 2009 - Ecosia is now one of the most prolific tree-planting organisations in the world, and also one of the world’s largest environmental movements. Christian stands against unregulated capitalism and wants to see the model changed for the better. He doesn’t believe being wealthy is the key to happiness nor does he believe overconsumption is appropriate in a world where we need to fight climate change. Christian made it legally irreversible for anyone to sell Ecosia or to take profits out of it, and is against evading taxes and selling user data. As well as being an entrepreneur, Christian is the author of Social Capital and the Happiness of Nations: The Importance of Trust and Networks for Life Satisfaction in a Cross-national Perspective. He joins World Fund as a venture partner to invest in the next generation of deep tech companies fighting the climate crisis.
As featured in: Business Insider
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