Greensphere Capital LLP, via its climate incubator Gaia Sciences Innovation, is aiming to invest up to £100 million in plant and fungal science spinouts, with applications ranging from sustainable agriculture to habitat restoration in the UK and internationally.
Gaia Sciences Innovation (GSI) will work with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) and other science and commercial partners to commercialise and scale up research in biodiversity, botanical and fungal science, forestry, agriculture, and habitat restoration.
Divya Seshamani, Managing Partner of Greensphere Capital says:
“Greensphere is excited to be working with this unique British institution – a clear leader in the field of habitat restoration, plant and fungal science and which has a global reach. Greensphere has spent the past decade committed to investing in solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges around climate change and biodiversity loss, and we believe that nature-based solutions are critical levers to managing these systemic risks. Having increasingly seen that much of what we could invest in was not based on hard science or had a verifiable evidence base, we spent significant time and resources looking for a partner with a deep and respected science base but also one that shares our values and vision.”
RBG Kew has over 350 scientific staff working on projects with partners in over 100 countries worldwide, including a permanent base in the critical biodiversity hotspot Madagascar.
RBG Kew’s current five-year science strategy sets out an ambition to help stop biodiversity loss and develop sustainable nature-based solutions for some of humanity’s biggest challenges.
Leveraging over 260 years of collection material as well as the extensive living collections at both its gardens (Kew and Wakehurst) and the Millennium Seed Bank, RBG Kew is uniquely positioned to be able to explore these solutions.
The aim of this agreement, the first of its kind by RBG Kew, would also be that the investments made by GSI further develops the UK as an international scientific and entrepreneurial hub for aspects of biodiversity such as habitat restoration science.
GSI’s investments in nature-based solutions aim to create high-skilled green jobs, increase laboratory space dedicated to this type of science, and build up skills and technological capability in this sphere.
One of the longer-term ambitions underpinning the agreement is that the links that RBG Kew and Greensphere Capital’s projects already have in emerging markets should pave the way for helping not only the UK but also developing nations to use science to become more resilient in the face of a changing climate and unprecedented habitat loss.
More broadly, GSI aims to invest over £100 million in the next few years into early-stage investments and new business creation – commercialising and scaling the application of science to promote greater biodiversity including for plants, sustainable forestry and agriculture, bees and habitat restoration. The RBG Kew agreement will be the first partnership of this kind with GSI’s investment programme.
Some of the solutions GSI’s investments will focus on include; developing climate change resilient food crops, alternative rainforest crop propagation, pollinator restoration and apiculture, plant-and cell-based meat and dairy, zero-carbon fertiliser, carbon capture (both direct air capture and point capture), zero-carbon alternatives to palm oil, advanced biofuels, natural pesticides and natural products for drug development.
Richard Deverell, Director of RBG Kew says:
“This is a great opportunity for us to expand the impact of our work and aligns very well with what we set out to do by 2030 in Our Manifesto for Change strategy. When we work with others, innovate and deliver science-based solutions we know will see change. This could have a truly ground-breaking impact for people and the planet over time so I look forward to watching this partnership develop in the coming years.”
Photo credit kew