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Working Paper | Energizing The US Resource Innovation Ecosystem: The Case for an Aligned Intermediary to Accelerate GHG Emissions Reduction

Ashby H.B. Monk
Sarah W. Kearney
Alicia Seiger
Elliott Donnelley
Stanford Global Projects Center & Stanford Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance
2015

By 2050, the world population is forecasted to reach 10 billion people, and consumption of natural resources is expected to increase four-fold above current rates. Radical resource innovation – across energy, agriculture, water, and waste – is required to prepare the world for this future. Without it, we risk irreversible climate change, military conflict over resource access, and deepening inequity in the developing world. Paradoxically, there are no shortages of breakthrough technologies being developed in universities, national labs, and garages that could be as transformative today as the steam turbine in the 19th century or the solar cell in the 20th. What there is a shortage of, however, is patient, early-stage capital to support the transformation of these projects into lasting, profitable companies. Even growth-stage companies in this space sometimes lack access to project capital to execute first-of-a-kind demonstrations and deployments, and to achieve price competitiveness at commercial scale. In short, preventing a climate catastrophe demands that we create a new investment toolkit that can help bridge the “valleys of death” faced by these companies. We thus believe that the resource innovation ecosystem could benefit from the creation of a new aligned intermediary (“AI”). The purpose of this document is to propose the AI as a uniquely aligned financial services organization whose mission would be to specifically help Long-Term Investors (“LTIs”) – such as pensions, endowments, sovereign funds, family offices, and foundations – identify, screen, assess, and invest in high-potential companies that are producing the most impactful, and indeed profitable, solutions to climate change.