Actor Robert Downey Jr.’s new investment fund is tackling issues like deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and microplastics.
The Iron Man star announced his two new venture capital funds at the World Economic Forum’s virtual Davos meeting on Wednesday. They will be an extension of a broader environmental initiative he set up in 2019.
The FootPrint Coalition is a group of “investors, donors and storytellers'' who are committed to backing the technology needed to restore our planet. The fund puts money into sustainability-focused companies, creates educational environmental content and makes charitable donations to non-profits.
Already, it has helped to finance alternative protein company, Ynsect, which is building the world’s largest insect farm in France.
FootPrint Coalition’s new venture capital funds will invest in a range of different solutions from energy and transport to education, media and high tech sustainable innovation.
The Marvel actor hopes that his new project will democratise investment in companies creating tech solutions to the climate crisis.
“We realised that part of what we do is we generate content that builds a community and grows an audience and then we can leverage that into getting eyes on deal flows that normally would be very exclusive,” he told CNBC.
What is a venture capital fund?
In order to succeed, small, startup companies need investment. To help them grow, investors put money into these companies with the hope that they will take off and provide them with returns. This is called venture capital and it fills a gap in the process of innovation where people have a good idea but not the money to make it happen.
But this kind of investment is risky as there is no guarantee that the startup will succeed. That’s where venture capital funds come in. They manage large amounts of money, put it into these developing companies and then monitor them in order to protect that investment. They usually participate on the board of the company, working with the CEO, to ensure that it is making good business decisions.
For sustainable startups, FootPrint Coalition is “picking the best among them, and doing [its] part to help them succeed”. It also wants to help tell their stories and get them in the public eye so that a global audience can get behind these groundbreaking innovations.
“What drives me above all, is to make a lasting and meaningful positive impact on humanity, and on the planet,” says Downey Jr.
“I am a technophile and an optimist, who is deeply concerned about restoring the mess we are leaving behind.”