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ImpactAssets 50: A Global Landscape of Impact Investment Fund Managers
The ImpactAssets 50 (IA 50) is the first open-source, publicly published database of experienced private debt and equity impact investment fund managers.
https://www.impactassets.org/impactassets-50

ImpactAssets 50

An Annual Showcase of Impact Investment Fund Managers

IA 50 2021 PROFILE

Clean Energy Venture Fund 1, L.P.

Total Assets Under Management: $100 – 499M
Asset Class: Private Equity
Primary UN Sustainable Development Goal: 7 – Affordable & Clean Energy
Clean Technology, Alternative Energy & Climate Change
Water and Sanitation

Firm Overview

Category: Private Equity - Early Stage (US)

At Clean Energy Ventures we’re enabling the mitigation of climate change through energy innovation. We’re funding ~25 disruptive, capital-light technologies and business model innovations that can reshape how we produce and consume energy. Each startup we invest in has the potential to reduce 2.5 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions between our investment and 2050. Since 2005, our leadership team has invested in climate tech startups alongside our angel-investor partners at the Clean Energy Venture Group, prominent venture capital firms, leading OEMs, global materials companies, oil majors, and more. In addition to funding, we provide hands-on guidance through leadership coaching, strategic marketing, IP development and active board participation. Our collection of 15+ Venture Partners guide our startups and enhance our value with their deep technical and operating experience. 

Firm Headquarters: US & Canada
Years of Operation: 5 – 9 years
Total Assets Under Management:
$100 – 499M
Total Number of Investors: More than 25
% of Capital from Top 3 Investors: 25% – 49%
Investment Thesis:

We invest in and commercialize early-stage advanced energy technologies that can provide venture-grade financial returns and reduce or mitigate at least 2.5 gigatons of GHGs between investment and 2050.

Investment Overview:

Beyond fulfilling our emissions-reduction mandate, each company must meet the additional five (5) criteria:

  1. Capital Efficient Commercialization: The company can reach pre-determined commercial milestones or be EBITDA-positive for less than $50M in total equity financing.
  2. Reasonable Valuation for Stage: The pre-money valuation is appropriate for the company’s current stage of technology development and is typically $5M to $10M.
  3. Team Seeks Hands-On Investors: The core team must be based in North America, assessed to be coachable, and committed to building a diverse, equitable and inclusive team that can effectively execute their business plan.
  4. Development Stage: The company’s product or service has a clear line-of-sight to initial commercialization within 24 months of our investment.
  5. Sustainable Market Advantage: IP protection or other sustainable competitive advantages provide a defensible position for the next 7+ years and/or can protect a gross margin of at least 40%.
Company Differentiator:

GHG Emissions-reduction Mandates: Every company we invest in must have the potential to mitigate 2.5 GT of GHG emissions by 2050. 

Clean Energy Expertise: Investing in cleantech since 2005 in more that 40 companies. We have 15+ venture partners from our sister investor syndicate, Clean Energy Venture Group. CEV’s advisory board is led by Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz who is actively involved in the strategic guidance of CEV. 

Value-Add Resources: We are very active investors and bring a suite of resources to the early stage companies including leadership coaching/hiring with Dialogos, strategic marketing with CEV’s Director of Marketing, and deep technical team for multi-generational planning and IP development. 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI): We believe in creating diverse teams and backing founders from underrepresented groups. Our term sheets for investment have detailed requirements for portfolio companies to implement and adhere to DEI policies and procedures.

Investment Example

In Q3 2020 CEV invested in SunDensity that has a solar glass coating technology that converts the blue light that cannot be absorbed by solar cells into red light that can be converted into electricity. Applied underneath the glass in solar panels, the photonic coating can increase panel efficiency by 20% or more. This is a highly disruptive innovation that will significantly reduce cost per watt of solar panels. Manufacturers apply this coating with widely available magnetron sputtering tools used throughout the glass industry, reducing engineering risk and helping the company grow “capital-light.” SunDensity’s technology has the potential to mitigate more than 2.5 gigatons of GHGs by 2050. The company was founded by Dr. Nishant Sonwalkar of MIT, who is leveraging a network of photonics experts across New York State. While the solar implications are expansive, this technology also has extended applications in consumer electronics and architectural glass.

Leadership and Team

Cumulative Leadership Experience in Investing:
30 years or more
Cumulative Impact Experience of Top Three Firm Leaders:
30 years or more
Temple Fennell – Co-Founder and Managing Director More Info

Temple Fennell has more than 20 years of experience as an investor and operating executive deploying capital of private investors and family offices in direct investments. Temple founded and operated three companies that were funded by private investors, family offices, and institutional investors (New Enterprise Associates, Oak Investment Partners, Pearson Education and others). Temple most recently served as a full-time strategic advisor for Flagship Ventures, a technology firm that develops technology companies to solve global problems and transform large markets in the energy, water, food and human health sectors.

Dan Goldman – Co-Founder and Managing Director More Info

Daniel Goldman has over 25 years of energy industry experience in strategy, corporate and project finance, and project development, as well as private equity/asset investment and early-stage venture investing. Over the course of his career, Mr. Goldman’s experience has spanned the upstream, mid-stream and downstream oil, gas, coal and power generation sectors of the industry, and since 2000 has included an extensive focus on clean energy asset development and finance, energy efficiency technology development, as well as venture and project investments, both domestically and internationally.

David Miller – Co-Founder and Managing Director More Info

David Miller was Executive Managing Director of the Clean Energy Venture Group (CEVG) between 2005 and 2017. An engineer by training, he brings over twenty years of technology startup management experience and over eighteen years of seed stage investing experience. He has been on the board of directors or advisory board of several clean energy companies, including Boston Materials (currently), Pika Energy (until acquired in April 2019), MyEnergy (until acquired in May 2013), Azima DLI (until Sep 2014), Cambrian Innovation (Advisory Board), and has mentored many others. He also has an appointment as Research Affiliate at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Percentage of Investment Professionals who identify as women:
Less than 25%
Percentage of Investment Professionals who identify as a person of color:*
Less than 25%
Percentage of Senior Management Team who identify as women:
Less than 25%
Percentage of Senior Management Team who identify as a person of color:*
Less than 25%
*People of color include: Black, Latinx, Asian, Native American/Alaskan Native, Pacific Islander, Middle Easterm and multi-racial Americans

Financial Performance

Target Financial Returns Relative to Benchmark:
Above Market Rates
Actual Performance Relative to Target Financial Returns in the Past Three Years:
In line with initial target returns
Financial Reporting Frequency to Investors or Donors
Quarterly

Impact Performance

Percentage of Total Assets Under
Management that are Impact Investments:
100%
Primary Impact Outcomes:
Addressing climate change and environmental issues
Increasing access to water and sanitation
Secondary Impact Outcomes:
Alleviating poverty
Conserving land, ecosystems and natural resources
Creating jobs
Value-added Services Offered:
Access to markets
Business and legal training
Financial literacy training
Technology training
Racial bias training

Investments systematically target companies where social and/or environmental impact is integral to the product/service being created:

Our GHG emissions-reduction mandate is the clearest representation of where we invest in impact. We consider our emissions reduction criteria to be one of the most aggressive within our peer set and make it a gating item on beginning full due diligence. We clearly communicate this impact-orientation in our published articles, at events, in one-on-one conversations, and on our website. While we don’t expect our investments to eliminate racial or gender biases, we do consider ways their product or solution distinctly benefits underserved communities who will disproportionately feel the effects of climate change. This is a question in our application process that all companies must complete and integral to our screening.

Investments systematically include social and environmental sustainability practices in the due diligence process:

A standard condition of the term sheets that we issue is that companies agree to consider environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) factors in its operations and report on such matters to us with metrics that include GHG footprint and GHG reduction. Given the early stage of the companies that we consider in our sourcing and due diligence policies, most companies are typically made up of ten or fewer employees at the time of investment and have not yet established many ESG policies. As active board members, we work with each portfolio company to establish ESG policies and best practices.

Impact Tracking and Monitoring

Impact is Tracked:
Yes
Social and/or Environmental Impact is Reported to Investors and Donors:
Yes – to investors and donors
Third Party Validations:
Participant on steering committees or leadership roles within impact industry associations
Publisher or contributor to industry white paper or other research in impact investing

Learn More

Key Contact Name: Temple Fennell
Phone: 917-687-2788
Mailing Address:

50 Milk Street, 16th Floor, Boston, MA 02109 USA

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