Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates have launched Cleantech for UK, a coalition of investors aiming to boost a new generation of green start-ups, at Imperial College London.
Backed by more than £6 billion of private funding and supported by Breakthrough Energy, an organization founded by Bill Gates, the initiative aims to accelerate the translation of the UK’s scientific research into world-leading cleantech scale-ups and energy transition.
Bill Gates said: “The UK has all the ingredients to become a major player in the global push to build a net zero emissions future, including world-class research facilities and forward-looking investors. It’s great to see cleantech businesses, innovators, and policymakers coming together to advance UK climate leadership.”
The PM said: “Investing in renewable and clean tech is one of the best ways to strengthen our energy security, create better-paid jobs and grow the economy.”
“With the launch of Cleantech for UK, a new generation of talented British businesses can be confident that they have the backing they need to unlock green solutions to some of the biggest challenges we face. This shines a light on the strength of UK innovation – and our ability to find new ways of doing things to drive economic, social and environmental progress,” the PM added.
HCLTech and HCL Foundation are also committed to driving cleantech initiatives.
Freshwater ecosystems around the world are under threat from climate change, with stats predicting that by 2030 the global demand for water will exceed sustainable supply by 40%. To drive the freshwater conservation and management agenda and support water-focused, tech-driven entrepreneurs, HCLTech has partnered with Uplink to launch a program ‘Aquapreneur Innovation Initiative’.
“Today, freshwater resources globally are extremely burdened and every fifth child on this planet faces water scarcity,” said Roshni Nadar Malhotra, CEO of HCL Group and Chairperson of HCLTech. Through the Aquapreneur Innovation Initiative, we are re-committing to accelerate multi-stakeholder collaboration and innovation in the global freshwater conservation space.”
Turning Britain into a ‘science superpower’
Cleantech for UK describes itself as a "new initiative to establish a dialogue between the UK's policy-making community and those living the reality of creating, incubating, investing in and scaling cleantech companies".
Beverley Gower-Jones OBE FEI, Managing Partner of Clean Growth Fund said: “The UK is well positioned to support the country’s climate tech entrepreneurs, but if the UK is to have any chance of successfully winning a slice of the 4th industrial revolution – the cleantech revolution, we need do more. We need a higher degree of collaboration across finance, industry and government, as well as a significant ramp up of venture capital investment into early-stage clean tech and “first-of-a-kind demonstrator projects.”
Cleantech for UK coalition announcement comes a week after the PM reshuffled the former Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) to create three distinct departments for innovation, energy security, and business.
He added: “Last week, I created a brand-new government Department for Innovation, Science and Technology, but also a new Department for Energy Security – and that’s what we’re delivering for the British people.”
“Having a single department focused on turning scientific and technical innovations into practical, appliable solutions to the challenges we face will help make sure the UK is the most innovative economy in the world,” said the Prime Minister’s office in a press release.
A new report by GovGrant has highlighted the UK’s prominent role in cleantech, with 18% of total European spend in the sector invested in the country. While investment in cleantech may be growing, the report shows that the sector makes up just 3% of total investment this century, accounting for £1.25 trillion of £40 trillion.
This appears to be a remarkably low figure considering the scale of the challenge the climate crisis presents. However, the recent growth in investment shows there is cause for optimism and that the sector is attracting more backers, with over 8% of global investors now involved in cleantech.