Berkeley universities

Future Planet Capital closes £ 3million crowdfunding in days

Future Planet Capital, the impact investor targeting top university spin-offs, surpassed its £ 2.5million Seedrs crowdfunding target within days.

The venture capital firm, which has so far invested £ 300million in university spin-offs, has now raised £ 3million through the crowdfunding platform.

It has carved a 10 percent corridor for itself in future business flows for Seedrs’ small investors, giving them the same access to top university spin-offs as its institutional investors.

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Future Planet Capital has turned the standard fundraising model upside down, having already raised millions through Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds and billionaire investors.

Founder Douglas Hansen-Luke is difficult to pin down as to exactly why he wanted to raise funds from small retail investors, having already raised hundreds of millions.

He said he had already proven the investment model to work with sovereign wealth funds, experienced investors and governments, so he wanted to open his fund to individual investors.

“Our vision has always been to connect the biggest investors with the brightest minds in the world,” said Hansen-Luke.

“To be honest, we don’t need the money. We want to find a way to allow the crowd to have access to impact and innovation. If you can persuade sovereign wealth funds, governments, and seasoned investors to invest, if it worked for them, then we’ve already done the hard part. It makes sense to let people access innovation and impact.

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Hansen-Luke launched Future Planet Capital in 2015, raising funds through sovereign wealth funds, corporations and pension funds.

The VC has invested £ 300million in 100 companies since then, with an average investment of £ 3million each at either the Series B or Series C stage.

Its strategy is to invest in growing companies that do good for the environment or for society, from the best universities in the world such as Oxford, Cambridge, Tel Aviv and Tsinghua in China, as well as the best American campuses. .

It partners with university venture capital funds, such as Oxford Sciences Innovation, rather than the universities themselves.

The VC estimates that there are around 13,000 such spin-off companies from the world’s top universities, of which only 2,500 have received investment so far.

Future Planet Capital itself intends to support between four and five spin-off companies each year from the best academic institutions in the world.

The areas in which it invests are: climate change, health, education, sustainable growth and what it calls security, which can include anything from food supply, border security or cybersecurity.

Two of Future Planet Capital’s portfolios have already achieved unicorn status, valued at over $ 1 billion: genetic discovery service 23andMe and US small business retirement provider Guideline.

It has made two outings to date: Vaccitech, which owns the biotech platform behind the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, and 23andMe, both of which went public this year.

The company has also partnered with Barclays Wealth Management to create thematic funds for the bank’s high net worth clients, investing in up to 10 impactful start-ups each year. Some of these private clients are investing millions.

He has already closed a fund covering infectious disease research for Barclays. Today he is working on a climate change fund that will invest in four to ten start-ups, whether in food and agriculture, sustainable consumption, energy / emissions, reduction of carbon or the management of the Internet of Things.

Responsible investment

In many ways, Hansen-Luke’s career path has led directly to the management of a socially and environmentally conscious VC.

Hansen-Luke said: “Throughout my career I have always been able to combine purpose and profit.

He started his professional life working on alternative investments in the consultancy firm Bain & Co, then worked for the American investment firm Salomon Brothers, then moved to Hong Kong where he worked for the Dutch bank ABN Amro , then the Dutch asset manager Robeco. One of its areas was then called “responsible investment” – what we now call ESG (environment, social and governance).

Hansen-Luke left the bank in 2012 and founded his own ‘impact investing’ consultancy, HLD Partners, which has studied the issue of responsible investing on behalf of sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East, which could see the writing on the wall when it came to basing an entire economy on oil.

The Spark of Future Planet Capital arose from a study, in which Hansen-Luke identified that the most successful companies in the world had all been backed by venture capital and all came from a handful of American universities. , such as Harvard, Stanford, MIT and Berkeley. .

He has recommended his sovereign wealth fund clients invest at the Series B or Series C stage in an array of college spin-outs.

He also noted that the most successful investments have been those that support companies trying to solve huge global challenges, be it climate change or food production. Impact investing was therefore a way to make a profit, not to signal virtue or to feel better, concluded Hansen-Luke.

Further reading

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