London-based Greensphere Capital, a specialist fund manager, on Wednesday, announced the launch of Gaia Sciences Innovation partnerships, bringing together the world’s largest group of globally renowned bioscience and environmental science institutes.
As a part of the initiative, Greensphere aims to raise a £150M (approximately €171M) fund to invest in and scale world-leading businesses that successfully commercialise solutions to mitigate the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.
Gaia Sciences Innovation brings together prominent British partner institutions, housing over 4,000 scientists, researchers, and conservationists.
It includes RBG Kew, ZSL, University of York, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, and via the Anglia Innovation Partnership, the Earlham Institute, John Innes Centre, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Quadram Institute, The Sainsbury Laboratory, and the University of East Anglia.
The £150M fund
The fund is based in the UK with a particular focus on regional research hubs like York and Norwich. It will invest in startups, spin-outs, and scale-up businesses associated with these institutions and can contribute to the fight against biodiversity loss and climate change.
These companies will have ongoing access to state-of-the-art scientific expertise in plant, fungal, and animal sciences, ecology and hydrology, soil and microbiomes, and engineering biology.
On the other hand, partner organisations will benefit from new spinouts through profit-sharing via co-ownership and license fees. This wider arrangement will allow organisations to fund future research and further build their organisational capacity.
The fund will focus primarily on investments across three focus areas:
- Greening real assets: making agriculture and forestry more sustainable and enhancing or restoring land and water-based ecosystems, with applications such as natural pest control, green fertiliser and products that enhance soil health, afforestation and habitat restoration advisory, enhanced carbon dioxide sequestration, and improved watershed management.
- Green fintech: providing technology and expertise that can underpin and unlock green financial markets. It includes technologies to measure, monitor and verify biodiversity and climate impacts, including technologies for environmental DNA collection and sequencing, sensors for tracking water and soil health, computational genetics, and AI for assessing climate and nature-related risks.
- Human supply-chain resilience: Investing in solutions that improve the resilience of human supply chains (from food to medicine) and ease pressures on ecosystems or adapt to changing conditions. For example through climate-resilient food crops, developing alternatives that displace drivers of deforestation such as meat, dairy and palm oil, and using plants for drug discovery or producing bioactive compounds.
Divya Seshamani, Managing Partner at Greensphere Capital, says, “In the face of the global climate and biodiversity crisis, we urgently need more investment into solutions based on the best available science. Mitigating these real risks requires evidence-led, science-based solutions, not anecdotes and spin.”
“Britain is home to many of the world’s best bio and environmental science researchers, but the commercial potential in their breakthroughs is too often being overlooked. We want to unlock a pipeline of exciting ventures that are based on brilliant ideas, that operate with scientific integrity, that are grounded in a contextual understanding of the complex natural systems and are alert to the risks of unforeseen consequences,” adds Seshamani.