Robert Downey Jr. Announces Sustainable Tech Venture Funds
"I am a technophile and an optimist, who is deeply concerned about restoring the mess we are leaving behind," actor and producer Robert Downey Jr. told Euro News.
Last week, the Ironman actor announced two new venture funds that aim to invest in sustainable technology. Their goal will be to address the climate crisis and other major environmental challenges such as deforestation, food scarcity and microplastics.
"I love our planet, but it's got problems — we all know it," Downey Jr. said in an official Instagram post announcing the news. "We need new solutions… I'm seeing crazy, amazing new tech products that can restore the environment, and we are at the precipice of the sustainable technology renaissance with A.I., robotics, computational biology, creating amazing new materials, foods, products, sources of energy."
The FootPrint Coalition Ventures, as the rolling funds are called, will invest money in sustainably focused companies, create educational content around the environment and make charitable donations to non-profits, Euro News reported.
The funds will act as the new investment arm of Downey Jr.'s larger FootPrint Coalition, which was established in 2019 and already includes a nonprofit that supports early scientific research and a storytelling branch that produces content about sustainable technologies, reported Fast Company.
"I formed the FootPrint Coalition to bring scale to trailblazing sustainable technology companies," Downey Jr. explained in the Instagram video. With its three sectors, the FootPrint Coalition will unite investors, donors and storytellers committed to funding technology that will restore the planet, Euro News reported.
Downey Jr. told Energy Live, "Having spent the last 18 months in dialogue with scientists, engineers and technologists, I now have a firm grasp of the obvious: this global existential threat is not something that's going to be solved by a smattering of elite mega-corporations. I think that paradigm must be smashed in favor of innovation by a broad set of new companies."
Downey Jr. told Fast Company that he hopes the new venture funds will catalyze private companies to understand the leading role they can and should play in tackling sustainability crises. He also hopes the investments will increase interest in and implementation of enviro-tech solutions. Because the funds are open to the public, he believes they will democratize investments in environmental solutions, Euro News reported.
"Hearing from so many of you, I can see how much you care. That's why I'm creating a way to invest in all the companies that I am putting my money into," Downey Jr. said in the Instagram video. "And, if you want to learn more, get involved, will ya?"
Downey Jr. "is personally investing in the VC funds, contributing at least 10 percent of each of the firm's initial two funds (up to a total of $1.5 million annually)," reported Variety. Both funds are positioned to raise more than $80 million a year.
The actor and activist wants to leverage his audience, storytelling talents and creative team to help portfolio companies extend their reach and grow their impact. His goal is to translate scientific concepts into accessible information so global audiences can understand the groundbreaking innovations, reported Euro News and Variety.
"This just feels so vital," Downey Jr. told Fast Company, saying the venture funds will be a "commitment to wanting to really get knee-deep in the problem-solving."
The funds will focus on six key investment areas: sustainable consumer products and services; food and agriculture technology; materials and industrial technology; energy and transportation; education and media and advanced environmental solutions, reported Energy Live. One of the venture funds will invest in early-stage technologies while the other will focus on late-stage investments.
According to Energy Live, FootPrint Coalition Ventures have invested in five companies to date, including Arcadia Earth, a media platform helping the planet through environmental storytelling; RWDC Industries, a biotech company making a plastic alternative that can break down into water and CO2; Ÿnsect, an insect protein and fertilizer company; Aspiration, a socially conscious online bank offering sustainable cash management services; and Cloud Paper, a bamboo-based paper company aiming to save a billion trees.
"FootPrint Coalition is opening the door to allow real people to invest in the companies that are building businesses around the mission of saving the Earth for generations to come," Aspiration CEO Andrei Cherny said, according to Variety. "We are honored to have them and Robert Downey Jr. as investors and partners in this worthwhile battle."
Downey Jr. concluded, "Investment in sustainable technology is a critical pathway toward the discovery and scaling of better solutions for our planet. We need to mobilize more people and catalyze more capital," reported Energy Live.