RBG Kew and Greensphere Capital sign exclusivity agreement for spinout climate and technology investments
Greensphere Capital LLP, via its climate incubator Gaia Sciences Innovation, is aiming to invest up to £100 million in plant and fungal science spinouts, with applications ranging from sustainable agriculture to habitat restoration in the UK and internationally.
Gaia Sciences Innovation (GSI) will work with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) and other science and commercial partners to commercialise and scale up research in biodiversity, botanical and fungal science, forestry, agriculture, and habitat restoration.
Divya Seshamani, Managing Partner of Greensphere Capital says:
“Greensphere is excited to be working with this unique British institution - a clear leader in the field of habitat restoration, plant and fungal science and which has a global reach. Greensphere has spent the past decade committed to investing in solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges around climate change and biodiversity loss, and we believe that nature-based solutions are critical levers to managing these systemic risks. Having increasingly seen that much of what we could invest in was not based on hard science or had a verifiable evidence base, we spent significant time and resources looking for a partner with a deep and respected science base but also one that shares our values and vision.”
RBG Kew has over 350 scientific staff working on projects with partners in over 100 countries worldwide, including a permanent base in the critical biodiversity hotspot Madagascar.
RBG Kew’s current five-year science strategy sets out an ambition to help stop biodiversity loss and develop sustainable nature-based solutions for some of humanity’s biggest challenges.
Leveraging over 260 years of collection material as well as the extensive living collections at both its gardens (Kew and Wakehurst) and the Millennium Seed Bank, RBG Kew is uniquely positioned to be able to explore these solutions.
The aim of this agreement, the first of its kind by RBG Kew, would also be that the investments made by GSI further develops the UK as an international scientific and entrepreneurial hub for aspects of biodiversity such as habitat restoration science.
GSI’s investments in nature-based solutions aim to create high-skilled green jobs, increase laboratory space dedicated to this type of science, and build up skills and technological capability in this sphere.
One of the longer-term ambitions underpinning the agreement is that the links that RBG Kew and Greensphere Capital’s projects already have in emerging markets should pave the way for helping not only the UK but also developing nations to use science to become more resilient in the face of a changing climate and unprecedented habitat loss.
More broadly, GSI aims to invest over £100 million in the next few years into early-stage investments and new business creation – commercialising and scaling the application of science to promote greater biodiversity including for plants, sustainable forestry and agriculture, bees and habitat restoration. The RBG Kew agreement will be the first partnership of this kind with GSI’s investment programme.
Some of the solutions GSI’s investments will focus on include; developing climate change resilient food crops, alternative rainforest crop propagation, pollinator restoration and apiculture, plant-and cell-based meat and dairy, zero-carbon fertiliser, carbon capture (both direct air capture and point capture), zero-carbon alternatives to palm oil, advanced biofuels, natural pesticides and natural products for drug development.
Richard Deverell, Director of RBG Kew says:
“This is a great opportunity for us to expand the impact of our work and aligns very well with what we set out to do by 2030 in Our Manifesto for Change strategy. When we work with others, innovate and deliver science-based solutions we know will see change. This could have a truly ground-breaking impact for people and the planet over time so I look forward to watching this partnership develop in the coming years.”
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About Greensphere Capital
Greensphere Capital was founded in 2011 to invest in sustainable technology, companies and projects that help to mitigate the systemic risks of resource scarcity, energy input volatility and climate stress. As the first fund manager to the UK Government’s Green Investment Bank, a mandate it won in 2012 against 23 other British and European fund managers, it has grown green and sustainable businesses in some of the most challenging social and economic environments for over a decade.
Over the course of three successive funds, it has continued to create long-term sustainable science-based and technical jobs, invest in and grow supply chain partners, and tried to spread good business practices - all while staying firmly focused on solving, through its investments, some of the world’s greatest challenges around climate change and biodiversity loss.
Greensphere closed its third buy-to-hold fund in April 2019. Through its triple bottom line approach (profit, people and planet) it aims to deliver long-term sustainable financial returns, as well as positive environmental and social impact. In November 2021, it announced at COP26, the launch of its Nature Based Solutions investment strategies. Investing in nature-based environment solutions marries Greensphere’s deep expertise in renewable energy, organic waste management, agriculture and silviculture with its passion for science-based solutions.
Under Nature Based Environment Solutions, Greensphere has two strategies. The first is an early stage investment fund and incubator - GAIA Sciences Innovation - that will invest in early stage companies in biodiversity, botanical and fungal science, forestry, agriculture, food and habitat restoration in partnership with some of the leading research institutes in the world. The second strategy works with major institutional investors to invest in large-scale sustainable agriculture, forestry, habitat restoration and sustainable land scheme projects.
About the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world-famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding collections as well as its scientific expertise in plant and fungal diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international and a top London visitor attraction. Kew Gardens’ 132 hectares of landscaped gardens, and Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex, attract over 2.5 million visits every year. Kew Gardens was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 260th anniversary in 2019. Wakehurst is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world, as well as over 500 acres of designed landscapes, wild woodlands, ornamental gardens and a nature reserve.
The Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre is Kew’s third research centre and only overseas office. RBG Kew receives approximately one third of its funding from the UK Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and research councils. Further funding needed to support RBG Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales.