Accelerating development of clean-tech startups – the Solar Impulse Foundation and BNP Paribas in Stockholm

The commercial launch of The BNP Paribas Solar Impulse Venture Fund attracted high profile Swedish investors in Stockholm, Sweden, on February 16th. Both Bertrand Piccard, Founder and Initiator of the Solar Impulse Foundation, and Christophe Lenouvel, Head of BNP Paribas Principal Investments and Chairman of the asset management company BNP Paribas Agility Capital, attended meetings with environmentally conscious investors looking for both financial returns and positive impacts on climate change.

“I heard Bertrand Piccard speak at an event in Berlin around 10 years ago, when he was planning the Solar Flight around the world”, says Nalini Bonnier, Head of Family offices and Entrepreneurs in the Nordics, BNP Paribas. “It was a strong message. I wanted our Swedish clients to have a chance to hear his vision and to take part in our initiative to accelerate the development of high potential clean-tech startups involved in the ecological transition.


The energy transition in Sweden

Sweden is an early adopter to the energy transition theme. For example, it was one of the first countries in the world to impose a carbon tax already back in 1991. Since then, many countries have followed suite.

Sweden is considered a global leader in many areas of sustainability,” says Eirik Winter,CEO and Head of Nordic region, BNP Paribas CIB. "Many Swedish clients have already issued sustainability linked and green bonds. We are also advising and financing leading companies with cutting-edge technologies in the sustain-tech sector.”

"Sweden is a global leader in sustainability. Many Swedish clients have already issued sustainability linked and green bonds. We are also advising and financing leading companies with cutting-edge technologies in the sustain-tech sector. "
“Sweden is in many ways a role model for the rest of the world. I really believe that a carbon tax in combination with support for clean tech companies is the best way to move forward.”

Bertrand Piccard

Founder of the Solar Impulse Foundation

Bertrand Piccard talked about the more than 1000 profitable solutions to protect the environment, which his Solar Impulse Foundation has labelled. He is already planning to return to Stockholm in early June to attend the UN Environmental conference, "Stockholm 50+: a healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity”. The conference is a commemoration of the first ever UN Environmental conference hosted by the former Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1972. 

The serial explorer and clean technology pioneer, who is known to be critical of the continued use of old and environmentally harmful technologies, explains the purpose of the Solar Impulse Efficient Solution Label: “ We want to show that investing in new and clean technologies makes both economic and ecological sense, fostering qualitative growth rather than just the quantitative and often harmful growth for the nature which we still see today. It is not only a financial matter. It is the mindset which needs to be changed.”

Accelerating the ecological transition alongside Solar Impulse  

The BNP Paribas Solar Impulse Venture Fund aims to invest EUR 150 million in high potential growth startups involved in the ecological transition, with the objective of accelerating their development and significantly changing their scale. The geographic scope will include Europe and North America. Target sectors will include clean energy, sustainable food and agriculture, circular economy & ocean, smart cities, sustainable mobility, and industrial innovation.

BNP Paribas has been an investor in startups, which have an impact on energy transition since 2016 and continues to support cleantech startups, committing EUR 75 million of its own capital to this VC fund, the remainder being open to professional investors sharing the same ambition.

" BNP Paribas  is happy to team up with Solar Impulse in favor of the Ecological Transition"

According to Christophe Lenouvel, “Accelerating our support to startups of the Ecological Transition through the launch of this fund by BNP Paribas Agility Capital with the Solar Impulse Foundation is a great opportunity. Our venture capital team dedicated to greentech, within BNP Paribas Principal Investments, is very happy to team up with Solar Impulse, and thus to combine our expertise and our networks in favor of the Ecological Transition.”

 “There is a considerable demand amongst the younger generation of Nordic investors to attain both financial returns and to make investments which improve the environment. These investors do not only look at old-fashioned returns like IRR (Internal Rate of Return). They expect us to be able to measure an Impact Rate of Return for the environment as well”, says Nalini Bonnier

Photo credit: Girgory Bruev

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