Wanted: funds to pollinate climate, nature start-ups

A rapidly growing specialist investment firm has launched a $150 million venture capital fund to support climate and nature start-ups across five emerging sectors.

Pollination, founded five years ago by climate and environmental law expert Martijn Wilder, will hand-pick companies for up to $12 million in funding to develop prototypes or scale up to meet demand for new products.

“This is a significant development that comes at the right time,” Mr Wilder, who’s also chair of the nation’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund Corporation, said on Wednesday.

With an undisclosed cornerstone commitment from Queensland Investment Corporation, Pollination’s new fund will target energy, transport, food and agriculture, carbon and nature management, and the emerging circular economy of recycling and reuse.

Pollination chief investment officer Diana Callebaut told AAP that those five areas had the most impact and potential in Australia.

“We’re not as mature in our climate and nature investing as other jurisdictions which, again, provides a great opportunity for growth on a relative basis,” Ms Callebaut said.

She said Australia was “very attractive” for early-stage investment and had an advantage in energy markets, carbon measurement and land regeneration, in particular.

The fund expects to begin making investments in late 2024 and will take three to five years to allocate capital, with a heavier concentration in the early years and the prospect of reinvestment.

“We’ll look at investing 60 per cent of the capital and then leave 40 per cent to be able to top up our best opportunities,” Ms Callebaut said.

Pollination already has a stake in Australian climate technology firms and an East Kimberley partnership with a First Nations-led clean energy, green hydrogen and green ammonia export project.

Carbon accountants FlintPro, seaweed farmer Sea Forest, sustainable foodies at Goterra, energy startup MGA Thermal and emissions platform Ruminati are on their books.

QIC private equity investment director Lottie Tant said the new fund would support local innovators working on the global challenges of climate change and nature preservation.

“Pollination’s global footprint and deep climate expertise provides a specialist value-add to Queensland startups,” Ms Tant said.

She said the scale-up capital would go to proven and innovative climate technologies, with the landmark fund to help close a funding gap experienced by early-stage companies.

The first Pollination-only fund, separate from a $US1 billion joint venture with HSBC, will be open to wholesale and institutional investors.


Marion Rae
(Australian Associated Press)


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