CEFC launches cleantech fund manager; aims to raise $200m
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has launched a new specialist fund manager, Virescent Ventures, to boost the amount of capital available for early stage cleantech investment.
Born out of CEFC’s Clean Energy Innovation Fund (CEIF), Virescent Ventures is aiming for a $200 million capital raise and will focus on investing in ambitious cleantech founders, technologies and growing businesses that help achieve zero emissions.
The new venture will be led and co-owned by the CEFC and its founders, formerly senior executives with the CEIF, including Executive Director Ben Gust and investment leads Kristin Vaughan and Blair Pritchard.
The CEFC is also ‘externalising’ management of the Clean Energy Innovation Fund to Virescent Ventures, which has been appointed to manage the portfolio on behalf of the CEFC given the long association with the portfolio companies.
CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth, who joins the Virescent Ventures Board, said, “We are seeing enormous market interest in the commercialisation of innovative technologies and business models which can accelerate the transition to net zero emissions. The success of these companies can benefit our economy and our environment, while enabling Australian innovators to play a leading role in the sustainable economy of the future.
“In creating Virescent Ventures, we are continuing to lead the market in seeding a new Australian venture manager with an outstanding track record to facilitate additional private sector investment and growth in the cleantech sector. This is about capitalising on the robust investment performance and skills of the Clean Energy Innovation Fund to bring much needed capital and specialist domain expertise into this critical part of our economy.
“The CEFC will continue to invest in cleantech companies where our capital can make a difference, drawing on capital from the CEFC core portfolio or investing through Virescent Ventures. This flexibility and collaborative approach demonstrates the strength of our continuing commitment to the cleantech sector.”
Virescent Ventures’ joint Managing Partner Ben Gust said, “The success of the Clean Energy Innovation Fund has generated very strong investor interest in the cleantech sector. Sustainability-focused investors are committed to the success of these innovators, recognising that there is no longer a need to choose between emissions impact and commercial impact.”
The fund provides an opportunity to tap into this interest, Gust said.
Virescent Ventures’ joint Managing Partner Kristin Vaughan said, “As with any emerging sector, these companies require patient capital from the earliest stages of their development, through to additional growth capital rounds and beyond. We see great potential and diversity among Australia’s cleantech entrepreneurs and are committed to supporting their commercial success, drawing on the positive gains of the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.”
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