Earth-friendly search engine Ecosia launches €350 million World Fund

dan@tech.eu

Berlin-based search engine that uses advertising revenues to plant trees, Ecosia has launched a €350 million climate tech venture capital fund, the largest of its kind on European shores. Looking at early to growth-stage startups with high climate performance potential, the fund will invest in companies ranging from alternative proteins to energy storage options and smart charging infrastructures as a service. The ultimate goal of the fund is to save 2 gigatonnes of emissions by 2040, a sum that reflects 4% of all global emissions.

Without much need to explain why a fund like this is needed, perhaps the better question is why a European fund like the World Fund has not yet been established. With only €6 billion in venture money being invested in European climate tech companies since 2013, the numbers are relatively paltry when compared to the €25 billion and €17 billion invested in the US and China, respectively. It certainly can’t be from a lack of available technologies and talent.

Looking at the providers, 50% more climate tech patents come from Europe than the US and China between 2019 and 2020, and in the same time period Europe saw 102 climate tech companies founded, a striking figure when the US and China combined saw 80.

Flipping the coin, there are only six specifically climate tech-focused VC funds in Europe, with the majority having less than $40 million to back founders with, while the North American numbers see 41 funds with more than $100 million in AUM.

With the launch of the World Fund, that later number just changed significantly.

One of the key goals of the fund is not to simply write talk the talk with big tickets, but to walk the walk. Using the CPP as a key indicator for funding, each company that the World Fund invests in will need to demonstrate that it has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 100 megatonnes of CO2 per year.

Taking the climate crisis head-on, the team behind the World Fund is comprised of some of the biggest and brightest minds on the European scene today. The general partners include:

  • Tim Schumacher, co-founder of 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
  • Daria Saharova, who spent 15 years investing in startups such as gridX, at leading European venture capital funds
  • Craig Douglas, who has worked in climate investing for over 10 years, primarily at SET Ventures, with notable investments including Sonnen and Limejump.
  • Christian Kroll as a venture partner, the founder and CEO of Ecosia.

Adding to the lineup, the World Fund investment team also includes a number of mechanical in chemical engineers, physicists, and a mathematician. The group is then further supported by a network of over 60 limited partners including Ecosia, Trivago co-founder Rolf Schrömgens; Econos, a sustainable investment platform founded by Alexander Samwer; serial female entrepreneur and author Verena Pausder and her husband Philipp Pausder, the founder of Thermondo.

And if that weren’t enough, the World Fund’s scientific and advisory board includes Max Planck Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship Professor director Dietmar Harhoff; academic director and Scientists for Future founder Dr. Gregor Hagedorn; and Deputy Head of Responsible Research at Fraunhofer Institute Simone Kaiser. This panel will help advise World Fund through validating its portfolio companies’ scientific methods and working closely with portfolio companies to make sure they have every chance of success.

“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,” commented Schumacher. “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.”

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