Artesian has raised $26 million for the Australian Clean Energy Seed Fund with investments from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Australian Ethical Investment, Hostplus and Future Super.

Specialist investment manager Artesian has completed a $26 million capital raise for the Clean Energy Seed Fund, including $10 million commitments from cornerstone investor the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Australian Ethical Investment, and further investments from Hostplus and Future Super.

Artesian launched the fund in September last year with a $20 million target, including the $10 million cornerstone commitment from the new Clean Energy Innovation Fund. The Seed Fund is registered with Innovation and Science Australia as an early stage venture capital partnership providing investors with tax-free returns.

The fund will invest in startups at seed stage via dedicated clean energy accelerators such as EnergyLab, which is supported by Climate-KIC Australia based on the EU’s leading cleantech innovation platform. The first cohort of EnergyLab startups include Eveeh, Iron Matrix, Blue Volt and Energy Panda.

The fund can also invest in clean energy startups sourced from the broader Australian startup ecosystem, including accelerators, incubators, university programs and angel groups. The fund will invest at seed, angel and later stage follow-on rounds in 30-50 startups over its four-year investment period.

Clean returns

Renewables provide about 17% of Australian power usage, with hydro accounting for 10% and wind and solar comprising 7% between them, and are becoming the cheapest form of new power generation. Building new renewable energy supply will not only help with stability and security but put downward pressure on prices. Innovative startups are creating new ways to produce, store, distribute, own and trade energy.

The fund will target scaleable, high-growth potential startups fueling innovation and creating opportunities in the development of clean technology across sectors such as the internet of things, energy storage, biofuels, alternative energy generation (solar, wave, geothermal, wind), metering and control, green building and biomaterials, transport technologies, water and waste.

“The investments in the Clean Energy Seed Fund from high-profile institutional investors are a validation of the fund’s objectives and a huge vote of confidence that Australian clean energy entrepreneurs and startups can be at the forefront of the revolution in clean energy innovation,” said Artesian managing partner Jeremy Colless.

“The Clean Energy Seed Fund will play a critical role in helping establish a national clean energy startup ecosystem, encouraging and supporting entrepreneurs, backing accelerator programs, attracting co-investors and engaging with international, especially Asian, partners and markets.

“The initial cornerstone commitment from the Clean Energy Innovation Fund has been pivotal to this success.”

The Clean Energy Innovation Fund draws on the finance and skills of the CEFC and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The right partners

Australian Ethical Investment’s chief investment officer David Macri commented, “We are very excited to commit our $10 million alongside the CEFC in what we consider to be a truly unique investment proposition. The need to transition our economy off fossil fuels is clear which will undoubtedly create many investment opportunities as well as risks. By investing in clean energy startups we are able to take advantage of the opportunities and assist our portfolios to continue to deliver superior risk adjusted returns for our investors. We look forward to developing the partnership with Artesian and are proud to support the growing cleantech industry as our ‘old-economy’ rapidly evolves.”

Future Super managing director Simon Sheikhsaid, “Future Super is pleased to announce our investment in Australia’s renewable technology start-up ecosystem through the Artesian Clean Energy Seed Fund. Future Super is committed to accelerating the transition to 100% renewable energy. Our members will be thrilled to know that, in addition to already investing in renewable energy assets and companies at home and abroad, part of their superannuation is now funding the clean energy entrepreneurs bringing Australia’s innovative climate solutions to market.”

Hostplus CEO David Elia said,“Not only are we optimistic in the long-term risk adjusted returns investments like this deliver to our members, but more fundamentally we believe this genuinely addresses the much-needed focus on unlocking Australian innovation that targets clean energy solutions.”