UK Infrastructure Bank backs Greensphere Capital’s innovative British climate and nature fund

UK Infrastructure Bank backs Greensphere Capital’s innovative British climate and nature fund  

20 March 2024

UK Infrastructure Bank has today announced a commitment of up to £50 million* on a match-funding basis to Greensphere Capital for its Gaia Sciences Innovation fund.

The fund will support the creation and scaling of businesses which harness innovation and intellectual property from globally renowned British bioscience and environmental science institutes, helping to unlock the commercial potential of cutting-edge UK research to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss.

The Bank’s financing is part of a conditional £66.3 million capital raise, alongside a £15 million investment from Frank Mars, Member of the Board of Directors at Mars, Inc., who will also step into a role as chair of the advisory committee for Gaia Sciences Innovation.

Gaia Sciences Innovation brings together a world-leading group of British bioscience and environmental science institutes. Collectively, these organisations are home to more than 4,000 scientists, researchers, and conservationists, including Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, ZSL, University of York, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, and the Anglia Innovation Partnership, where partners include the Earlham Institute, John Innes Centre, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Quadram Institute, The Sainsbury Laboratory, and the University of East Anglia. 

Funds will be deployed to invest into start-up, spin-out, and scale-up businesses linked to these institutions, providing products and services that can help tackle biodiversity loss and climate change. Companies will be based across the UK, with a particular focus on regional research hubs such as York and Norwich. 

UK Infrastructure Bank’s investment into Gaia Sciences Innovation will enable a greater range of businesses focused on developing activities to support natural capital investment to benefit from its financing. This supports UK Infrastructure Bank’s twin missions to help the transition to net zero and boost regional growth and aligns with the British Chancellor’s recent strategic steer to the institution to support nature-based solutions. 

John Flint, CEO of UK Infrastructure Bank, said:  

"We need to scale investment in natural capital if it is going to deliver on its net zero promise in the UK. This deal will help. Our matched funding will support the commercialisation of the science, data and technology, which is so crucial. This will, in turn, generate investor confidence, creating opportunities for nature investment, while also boosting skills and innovation in a nascent green sector.” 

Divya Seshamani, Managing Partner of Greensphere Capital, said:  

"We are delighted by the calibre of the investors supporting the Gaia Sciences Innovation fund – our team at Greensphere has worked hard to get here since the announcement of the fund launch in November 2023. As always, our primary objective is to create value for our investors and partner institutes. We are honoured to work with some of the most knowledgeable investors in the market like UK Infrastructure Bank and the Mars family, who are aligned with our values of people, planet and profit. We are also humbled to have a values-aligned, science-led leader in bioscience and AgTech investments like Frank Mars join our advisory committee as chair.” 

Frank Mars, Chair of the Limited Partner Advisory Committee of Gaia Sciences Innovation, said:  

"Having over 15 years of both bioscience and AgTech business experience, including as an investor, I often get pitched with ‘unique’ opportunities. Individual ideas are relatively easy. In my experience, it takes collaborating with others for something to become an innovation – which is the hard part. The Greensphere team, Gaia Sciences Innovation structure and the Gaia Sciences Innovation fund are providing exactly the sort of collaborative solutions the world needs, combining bioscience innovation with systems thinking to ensure we can leave future generations with a healthy planet and a thriving economy.
“We’re bringing together institutions with hundreds of years of scientific heritage, thousands of researchers, and access to some of the deepest and richest datasets in the world to create the next generation of technology companies that can help us adapt to climate change and the nature crisis, and even perhaps help solve it.  I’m honored to be playing a part in creating this legacy as chair of the Advisory Committee.” 

Gareth Davies MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said:  

“This deal marks another step in the transition, while also driving economic growth. 

“It goes beyond environmental improvement; it’s about creating jobs, boosting regional growth and fostering new businesses, reinforcing our nation’s position as a leader in green tech.” 

In December 2022, international governments agreed the Kunming-Montreal global biodiversity framework with a goal of halting biodiversity loss by 2030, protecting 30% of the planet for nature. According to World Economic Forum, $44 trillion of global economic value is moderately or highly dependent on nature and its services, making up over half of global GDP. ZSL and WWF’s Living Planet Index reveals that since 1970, there has been a 69% decline in global monitored wildlife populations, and it is predicted that by 2050 1 million species are on course for extinction. The fund sets out to address these interdependent challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.

Notes to Editors

*UKIB has agreed to make a conditional commitment of up to £50 million by way of a “matched commitment” model. Such commitment will be dependent upon the level of private sector investor commitments, and will be subject to various legal, regulatory and commercial conditions being satisfied.