Australian venture capital firm Artesian has completed a $26 million capital raise for its Australian Clean Energy Seed Fund after launching it with a $20 million target in September 2016.
The raise follows Artesian’s $58 million investment from superannuation giant Hostplus in February this year to fund venture capital deals for startups, ranging from seed to more mature stages.
The $26 million investment is led by $10 million commitments from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Australian Ethical Investment, with the remaining funds coming from Hostplus and Future Super.
Artesian managing partner Jeremy Colless believes having institutional investors back a fund like this is “really important” for Australia’s clean energy innovation sector and will help build a “strong ecosystem”.
“It’s a vote of confidence that clean energy is the future,” Colless tells StartupSmart.
The Clean Energy Seed Fund will actively invest in startups completing well-known accelerators, such as EnergyLab’s first cohort comprising Eveeh, Iron Matrix, Blue Volt and Energy Panda.
However, the fund will also target more mature startups with the intention of supporting backed-ventures as they grow.
Colless says the fund has a “clean energy mandate” and will back ventures across a wide range of verticals, including the Internet of Things, energy storage, alternative energy generation, metering control, water and waste management, and bio materials and transport technologies, as well as those that cross over into other areas like agtech and building tech, he says.
“The clean energy space is quite diverse,” he says.
Over the next four years, Clean Energy Seed Fund is planning to invest in as many as 50 clean energy startups.
“We have nearly $200 million under investment now in venture capital,” Coless says.
“That makes us now the pre-eminent seed focused venture capital fund in Australia. Our strategy is very different from our competitors in that we invest very broadly.”
Colless says Artesian has backed around 120 startups to date, with deals ranging from $50,000 to $2 million.
Startups keen to raise capital from the Clean Energy Seed Fund will need to be in an accelerator or incubator where they have been “pre-vetted or “pre-screened” by groups of entrepreneurs or professionals in the clean energy space.
However, Colless says the fund won’t only back “globally ambitious” startups; it will also look for ventures developing solutions for unique problems in Australia’s clean energy space with the ultimate aim of providing support from the early-stage through to exit.
“It’s really about building that pipeline in the clean energy sector and then supporting them all the way through,” he says.