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.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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