London’s top ten climate changed-focused VC funds
It’s a good time to be into ESG – environmental, social, and governance issues.
It’s also long been an open secret career power-move for dirty, oily bankers to pivot into the ESG space and lend their expertise in energy to the anti-climate change movement – money is pouring into the space, and banks are taking the space more seriously (sort of).
“More than one quarter of all venture capital funding is going to climate technology,” PwC said last November, and there was an “increased focus on technologies that have the most potential to cut emissions.”
London is one of the best places to be for ESG analysts. Venture Capital (VC) firms in the city have raised over half of all European climate tech funds in the last two years, as per Gong. But what are some of the biggest - and most interesting - in the city? And who do they hire?
Generation Investment Management
If there is a big daddy in the scene, it’s Generation. Founded in 2004 by Al Gore (Yes, really) and ex-Goldman Asset Management chief David Blood, it has offices in London and San Francisco. Although still headed up by the two founders, it has a subsidiary - Just Climate - which took on ex-Goldman VP Serhat Aydogdu as an investment professional just this month.
Founded by Prince Max von Lichtenstein (unrelated to the musician, but related to the country) in 2009, Lightrock is currently headed up by ex-McKinsey senior partner Pal Erik Sjatil. It took on Mehdi Lichani as a director of portfolio impact earlier this year - Lichani was once the global strategy director for French logistics provider Stuart.
Managing approximately €1bn, Zouk capital is comparatively old for this list, being founded in 1999 by ex-JPM banker, one Samer Salty. The fund added Yasmina Darveniza as a principal just last year from real estate investment manager Round Hill Capital.
Part of Octopus Investments – which is itself part of the Octopus Group – Octopus Ventures was founded in 2008. The fund is headed up Alliott Cole and Emma Davies, a former silver circle lawyer and JPMorgan research analyst respectively. It’s added staff recently, too – Richard Anson joined as a venture partner last year.
Planet First Partners
Founded only in 2020, Planet First Partners has raised over €450m “to foster a healthier life on a healthier planet.” It’s headed up by managing partners Frédéric de Mévius and Andreea Constantinescu. De Mévius is a scion of the Belgian aristocracy (his family owns brewer AB InBev), while Constantinescu is an ex-Goldman analyst and CVC Partners investment director.
Future Planet Capital
A fund that “links global centres of innovation” (eight elite universities) to “opportunities capable of delivering breakthrough returns” (money), Future Planet Capital was founded by Douglas Hansen-Luke in 2015. Hansen-Luke started his career as a consultant for Bain & Co and was Middle East CEO of Robeco, the asset manager, before a (failed) attempt at being elected to parliament.
With offices in London, Copenhagen, and Berlin, 2150 is a fund focused on “building a broad ecosystem of participants in the Urban Stack,” a rather tech-y way of saying “city-focused companies.” With over $300m to invest, 2150 was founded by Christian Hernandez, Jacob Bro, and Christian Joelck. Whilst Hernandez and Bro were tech entrepreneurs, Joelck worked a variety of roles in multiple countries, continents, and industries simultaneously.
Founded in 2006, ETF Partners boldly calls itself “the leaders in sustainable investment.” Founders Peter Horsburgh and Patrick Sheehan both – oddly for this last – came from a finance with background, with Horsborough a director for Israeli firm Matrix Corporate Finance and Sheehan an MD for 3i Group before starting ETF. It's hiring, too - it added Kimmo Korpela as partner in January, focusing on “Nordic environmental Technology.”
Spun out of South African Anglo-American Platinum, a subsidiary of the British mining giant, AP Ventures now focuses on the hydrogen supply chain, with particular focus on production, storage, and transportation. Founding partners Kevin Eggers and Andrew Hinkly both joined the miner in 2008.
Clean Growth Fund
Part-funded by the UK government and part-funded by private investors, the Clean Growth Fund was set up in 2018 as part of the government’s “Net Zero Innovation portfolio”. Current managing partner Beverley Gower-Jones is a former VP of Shell (the oil supergiant) and founder of its “Shell Ventures” VC subsidiary.
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