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World Fund launches €350m fund to support the climate crisis

New climate tech investor World Fund launches €350m fund to support the next generation of founders focused on the climate crisis. World Fund is Europe’s biggest climate tech VC intending to raise €350 million to back founders using tech solutions to tackle the climate crisis. 

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. 

World Fund has been initiated by the tree-planting search engine Ecosia, which is the world’s largest not-for-profit search engine that 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. 

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.”

Tackling the climate crisis is a €5trn opportunity 

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’s largest climate tech fund 

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.

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