Venture investing in cleantech is running hot, which is good news for innovative start-ups building the next generation of clean energy technology. 

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has been investing in the space since 2013, but as more private sector investors clamber to get involved, the government-owned investor has spun-out a stand-alone fund manager, Virescent Ventures. 

The fund will focus on cleantech opportunities at the seed and early venture stages. 

“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.” says Ian Learmonth, CEO fo CEFC, and board member of Virescent.

The fund’s investments will contribute to the work already being done by the CEFC’s Clean Energy Innovation Fund, and the CEFC will retain a slice of equity in the new entity. 

The fund is targeting a $200 million capital raise, hoping to attract superannuation funds, strategic investors and large family offices. With the CEFC expected to also be a cornerstone investor. 

The CEFC’s investment activities have not previously been open to widespread private investment, but this new vehicle offers the opportunity to more investors, with the potential to unleash large pools of capital, directed at this vital growth area. 

The founding management team are all former senior executives with the Clean Energy Innovation Fund, Ben Gust who is executive director, and investment leads Kristin Vaughan and Blair Pritchard.

“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.” Kristin Vaughan says. 

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