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Building on Beeck Center Leadership, Obama Administration Secures More Than $4B to Scale Up Investment in Clean Energy Innovation

WASHINGTON, DC (June 16, 2015) – Responding to President Obama’s call to action to expand private sector investment in solutions to climate change, the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University joined the White House and Department of Energy to announce $4 billion in clean energy commitments to be invested directly into clean energy solutions and companies.

“Today’s announcement is a clear example of how private capital can work with government to make significant public policy impact,” said Sonal Shah, Executive Director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation. “We applaud the President’s leadership to drive more private dollars into clean energy projects.”

As part of today’s announcement, the White House is hosting a Clean Energy Investment Summit where Vice President Biden will highlight the more than $4 billion of commitments by major foundations and institutional investors to fund innovative technologies with breakthrough potential to reduce carbon pollution.

The Summit will feature a diverse cross-section of senior administration figures and thought leaders, including Beeck Center Executive Director Sonal Shah who will be moderating a panel focusing on the role of philanthropy in investing and scaling clean energy and climate solutions.

Today’s commitments originated from a broad and diverse set of major foundations, institutional investors, and many other long-term investors, including:

Building New Investor Collaborations:  Foundations, family office investors, and institutional investors are today launching several new clean energy investment alliances that aim to significantly reduce the transaction costs of direct investing in early- and growth-stage technologies:

  • Institutional Investors Mobilize Over $1 Billion to Scale Up Clean Energy Innovations:  A consortium of long-term investors, including major pension funds and endowments, is committing to build a new nonprofit investment intermediary that identifies, screens, and assesses high-potential companies and projects for commercial investment that could also produce impactful and profitable solutions to climate change.  This consortium is initially allocating a total of $1.2 billion, with a goal of mobilizing $2.5 billion over five years that would not otherwise be invested in climate solutions.  Drawing from research led by Stanford University’s Global Projects Center and Steyer-Taylor Center, the new intermediary will focus on opportunities that would not fit into existing fund structures, moving companies and projects across the innovation and commercialization “valleys of death.”  The initial group of long-term investors that have announced they will work with this intermediary (along with capital allocations) includes:
    • $500 million from University of California’s Office of the Chief Investment Officer;
    • $350 million from the New Zealand Superannuation Fund;
    • $200 million from the Alaska Permanent Fund;
    • $100 million from TIAA-CREF; and
    • $10 million from Tamarisc.

In addition to the institutions that are announcing investment funds, the Hewlett Foundation, ClimateWorks Foundation, and other philanthropic partners are announcing they will provide grant funding to launch and support the initial operations of the new intermediary.

Over 250 Foundations and Family Offices Collaborate on Clean Energy Investing: 

  • The CREO Syndicate is launching today as a merger of the CREO Network and Cleantech Syndicate, bringing together over 100 family offices, advisors, and other investors representing more than $50 billion of investable capital.  Collectively, the members of the CREO Syndicate have invested over $1.5 billion into clean energy and the environment and plan to invest an additional $2 billion over the next five years. As a “cradle to scale” collaborative platform, the core mission of the nonprofit CREO Syndicate is facilitate greater investment in companies with environmental, energy, and climate impact.
  • Confluence Philanthropy and the CREO Syndicate are announcing a new joint initiative called the Climate Solutions Collaborative.  Confluence Philanthropy is an alliance of 200 foundations and advisors dedicated to mission-related investing that represent over $100 billion of investable capital.  By providing structured educational resources for asset owners, the Climate Solutions Collaborative will aim to increase all of its members’ investments in climate solutions by at least 20% above their 2014 levels by 2020.
  • Philanthropists Fund Promising Clean Energy Technologies:  PRIME Coalition is launching as a nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating charitable investment in market-based solutions to climate change.  Supported by the Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation, Blue Haven Initiative, the Chesonis Family Foundation, Echoing Green, Glass Charitable Trust, the Pritzker Innovation Fund, the Stiefel Family Foundation, and the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation, PRIME is focused on early-stage innovations that promise to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many philanthropic funders want to put their charitable capital to work in this field, but struggle with high transaction costs and complex investment structures; PRIME aims to lower these barriers by identifying the most promising new interventions, and enlisting legal and financial support that make it easier to place capital.

Additional Investment Commitments:  

  • Goldman Sachs is targeting $500 million of financing and co-investments in companies that develop and deploy advanced clean energy technologies, including for smart grid infrastructure and advanced battery solutions.  Investments in advanced technologies are important in order to modernize the grid and facilitate reliable and flexible expansion of clean energy, and are part of Goldman Sachs’ longstanding commitment to deploying capital to scale up clean technology and renewable energy.
  • Divest Invest Philanthropy, a coalition of over ninety foundations representing $4.8 billion in total assets, is committing at least 5% — and in many cases over 10% — of their respective endowments to investing in new energy solutions over the next five years.  Participating foundations include the Christensen Family Foundation, the Compton Foundation, the Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation, the General Service Foundation, the Nia Community Fund, the Overbrook Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Russell Family Foundation, the Schmidt Family Foundation, and the Switzer Foundation.  Specific commitments as of today include:
  • The Edward Mother Earth Foundation is committing to allocate at least $3.8 million in mission-related investing for clean technology and renewable generation, focusing efficient, clean, and fast solutions to global warming.
  • The John Merck Fund (JMF) is planning to allocate up to 100% of its more than $65 million endowment for investments focused on climate solutions, clean energy generation, and environmental health.
  • Meyer Family Enterprises, a $30 million family office, will allocate approximately 15% of its assets to clean energy solutions, in addition to its goal of achieving 100% impact by 2020.
  • The Sierra Club Foundation is making  a new commitment of $4 million to climate solutions and clean energy investments that are consistent with both its fiduciary responsibilities and its mission to educate and empower people to protect and improve the natural and human environment.  The foundation’s $60 million operating and endowment funds include $6 million of investments in renewable energy, efficiency, and clean energy technologies as well as green bonds.  Today’s new commitment of $4 million will specifically target innovative technologies and clean energy investments that offer potential solutions to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy by 2050.
  • The Wallace Global Fund is aligning 100% of its endowment with its mission, including approximately 35% of the portfolio dedicated to investments in climate solutions, and $20 million deployed into new clean energy technologies.
  • Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation (DRK) is announcing that as part of its new $65 million fund to support 100 next-generation social enterprises, it will allocate a portion to find, fund and support new and powerful models of innovation in the clean energy space.  As a foundation with a venture capital legacy, DRK searches for exceptional leaders who truly have the potential to create lasting impact and system change.
  • The Flora Family Foundation is committing to invest over $5 million with a focus on market innovations related to climate solutions, renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, and environmental sustainability.

A number of other foundations, endowments, and family offices are making new investment commitments that together exceed $500 million, including but not limited to:

  • Drakes View, which is expanding its investments in sustainable real assets including renewable energy, energy efficiency and water infrastructure;
  • McDougal Family Foundation, which is allocating a significant portion of its portfolio to renewable energy and renewable resources;
  • Mercy Investment Services, the socially responsible investment program of The Sisters of Mercy, a community of Roman Catholic women founded out of a commitment to persons who are poor and vulnerable, which is directing half of its private equity investments to companies focused on renewable energy, energy and water efficiency, materials recycling, green building practices, and sustainable agriculture;
  • Treehouse Investments, which is committing substantially all of its assets to investments in transformational business models that mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change, including renewable energy technology and production, energy efficiency, natural resources conservation, and market innovation supporting climate resilience in emerging markets; and,
  • the Unitarian Universalist Association, which has long incorporated the principles of socially responsible investing into its endowment, and is now placing a priority on moving capital towards climate solutions.
  • Duke University’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) today released an Impact Investment Clean Energy and Climate Solutions 2015 Sector Highlights on investments in clean energy and climate solutions committed at the June 2014 White House Roundtable on Impact Investing. From the $1.5 billion committed last June to new impact investments, more than 75% of the 29 participating organizations indicated an intention to invest in clean energy and environment solutions over the next 2-5 years.

Accelerating Clean Energy Innovation:  Today, several nonprofit programs that nurture early-stage clean energy startups and scientists are building on past support from the Federal government with new public-private partnerships.

  • Clean Energy Trust, a Chicago-based nonprofit startup accelerator supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is committing $10 million in privately raised seed capital to Midwestern clean energy technology startups, especially those born of National Laboratory and university research.  Over the next 10 years, Clean Energy Trust aims to help these companies raise an additional $100 million in private and public capital.
  • Energy Excelerator, a Hawaii-based nonprofit startup program dedicated to solving the world’s energy challenges, is announcing the launch of a new $3 million new fund, EEx Fund One, which will support Energy Excelerator portfolio companies that have been the most successful in raising private capital.  Energy Excelerator has supported 32 companies in energy, transportation, water, agriculture, and cybersecurity with strategic relationships and growth funding, and has itself received nearly $40 million in support from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) is announcing its expansion of a new $5 million public-private partnership to support Cyclotron Road, a home for entrepreneurial researchers to advance energy technologies until they can succeed beyond the research lab.  By leveraging the unique national laboratory facilities and expertise of the DOE, Cyclotron Road promises to significantly reduce the time and cost of energy innovation, providing a cohort of scientists with the time and resources to develop breakthrough energy materials and manufacturing technologies.  With support from LBNL; the DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office; CalCEF Innovations; The 11th Hour Project, A Program of The Schmidt Family Foundation; and Jones Day, the new Cyclotron Road Partnership will expand the program’s impact by supporting a second cohort of innovators this year, and creating the Cyclotron Road Leadership Council, an advisory group of experts from the DOE national labs, industry, venture capital, and philanthropy.

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