Sky backs £100m climate investment fund


UK media group Sky will back a £100m investment fund set up by Brent Hoberman’s Founders Factory to support start-ups focused on climate-related technologies.

The new fund will be chaired by Sir Ian Cheshire, former Kingfisher boss and chairman of Channel 4, and will bring together a board including climate scientists such as Professor Richard Templer and Professor Cameron Hepburn to help with its investment strategy.

The group will raise £100m to support early-stage climate start-ups, but will launch with an existing portfolio of stakes in around 25 start-ups that have been backed in the past by a previous venture capital fund Sky.

This vehicle, called Sky Ocean Ventures, was created in 2018 with £25million from Sky. The new fund will also receive proceeds from the sale of paper bottle maker Choose Packaging to Hewlett-Packard, in which Sky Ocean Ventures had a stake.

Henry Lane Fox, managing director of Founders Factory, will lead the Planet Fund along with Jamie Rowles, the former chief investment officer at Sky Ocean Ventures. The group said it would provide entrepreneurs with support in addition to capital, working with companies like Ovo Energy, Mindful Chef and ZeroAvia to grow their businesses.

Funding for climate technologies has increased in recent years, but often focuses on already developed parts of the industry such as electric cars and battery production, while investors say riskier and emerging technologies are more difficult to finance.

PwC has identified more than 3,000 climate tech start-ups globally, with $87.5 billion invested in climate tech during the second half of 2020 and the first half of 2021. The United States remains the most dominant during this period, raising $56.6 billion, or nearly 65% ​​of all funding, according to PwC.

Planet Fund will focus on broad sustainability themes including decarbonization, resource conservation and climate resilience. The fund’s management said it wanted to help fill the funding gap for early-stage climate start-ups.

Brent Hoberman, executive chairman of Founders Factory, said the decision to team up with Sky “will allow us to invest in and nurture the best climate entrepreneurs”.

The launch of the new venture capital fund comes ahead of Tech Week London, which will bring together investors, founders and government officials to discuss ways to boost activity in the sector. Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries will unveil a new digital strategy to help businesses grow and create new, high-skilled jobs.

On Monday, the UK government-backed Digital Economy Council will release data showing that more than 950 UK tech companies have raised £12.4bn in venture capital funding so far in 2022 – more than all of 2020 and placing the UK second in the US. and ahead of China, India and France.

Both Bristol and Oxford ranked in the top 20 European tech hubs for funding this year, according to data provided by Dealroom. The UK is now home to 122 ‘unicorns’, businesses worth over £1billion, he found.


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