Producer, actor and investor Robert Downey Jr has launched ESG-focused FootPrint Coalition Ventures, a series of rolling venture capital funds focused on sustainable technology, while participating in World Economic Forum (WEF) Digital Davos Agenda on a High Level Panel.
FootPrint Coalition Ventures’ mission is to accelerate groundbreaking technologies that are addressing the world’s largest environmental challenges.
“Having spent the last 18 months in dialogue with scientists, engineers and technologists, I now have a firm grasp of the obvious: this global existential threat is not something that’s going to be solved by a smattering of elite mega-corporations. I think that paradigm must be smashed in favour of innovation by a broad set of new companies.
Investment in sustainable technology is a critical pathway toward the discovery and scaling of better solutions for our planet. We need to mobilise more people and catalyse more capital. Thus – FootPrint Coalition Ventures, a group of investors, technologists, and storytellers committed to scaling enviro-tech solutions,” says Downey Jr. “We want to turn complex subjects into culture-defining content, and offer our audience an opportunity to invest with us. And so we are now opening up to outside investment by launching a “rolling fund” in partnership with AngelList. I’m asking my followers to come on this journey with me by following @officialfootprintcoalition – let’s help force multiply innovators’ efforts in changing the planet.”
The ESG sector – funds that focus on the Environmental, Social and Governance issues – continues to grow rapidly, as climate risk leads investors to reassess their positions and how it affects the bottom line and the earth. Part of the broader stakeholder capitalism movement, impact investing funds have topped $250 billion (CNBC), and sustainability assets have doubled in value over the past three years.
FootPrint Coalition Ventures will initially comprise two funds – an early-stage (Pre-Seed, Series A) and late-stage (Series B and beyond). Within the overarching umbrella of sustainable technology, the team has identified six particular investment areas of focus: sustainability focused consumer products and services; food and agriculture technology; materials and industrial tech; energy and transportation; education and media; and advanced environmental solutions. FootPrint Coalition has already invested in five companies –
Arcadia Earth: A next generation exhibition and extended reality experience with a mission to positively impact our planet through environmental storytelling. Arcadia is the first platform of its kind to offer a powerful, intimately personal exploration of the plight of our planet through human scale art installations and the futuristic lens of augmented and virtual reality.
Cloud Paper: A tree-free paper products company on a mission to save a billion trees. By using 100 per cent ultra-renewable bamboo, plastic-free packaging, and carbon neutral deliveries Cloud Paper provides a sustainable alternative to traditional paper products like toilet paper and paper towels.
RWDC Industries: A biotech company developing innovative and cost-effective biovanescent materials (materials that completely — 100 per cent completely — break down to water and CO2, leaving no trace) to replace petroleum-derived plastics in a wide range of single-use consumer goods.
Ÿnsect: the world leader in natural insect protein and fertilizer production, Ÿnsect uses pioneering proprietary technology protected by 260 patents to transform Molitor mealworms into sustainable, premium and high-value ingredients for humans, pets, fish and plants. Ÿnsect is currently building its second production unit, the first carbon negative and largest vertical farm in the world.
FootPrint Coalition Ventures’ latest investment, announced today alongside the fund, is in Aspiration, a neobank which offers 100 per cent clean, socially-conscious and sustainable cash management services and investment products, so individuals can make money while making the world a better place.
“For years, huge fortunes have been built off of actions that harm our planet. FootPrint Coalition is opening the door to allow real people to invest in the companies that are building businesses around the mission of saving the Earth for generations to come. We are honored to have them and Robert Downey Jr as investors and partners in this worthwhile battle,” says Aspiration CEO and Co-Founder Andrei Cherny.
FootPrint Coalition Ventures will be led by veteran tech investors and entrepreneurs Jonathan Schulhof and Steve Levin. Schulhof’s experience includes Motivate, GloriEnergy, ColdWatt , and GTI Capital. He received his law degree from Stanford. Levin co-founded Team Downey (development and content production across TV/Film, with 30-plus production credits and over $5.8 Billion in Box Office Gross) and Downey Ventures, (focused on media and technology investments.) Previously, Levin served as a strategy lead at Green Dot, was a founding member of Deloitte’s R&D Group (serving as the firm’s leading expert on nuclear power generation), and consulted for Bain & Co. He received his MBA from Stanford and holds a BS in Accounting and a Master’s of Business Taxation degree from USC. Collectively, the Footprint Coalition team has a history of working with great institutions to build category leading companies, from Maker Studios (sold to Disney) and Ethos Life to Saturn Technologies and Masterclass. Rachel Kropa, former head of the CAA Foundation who joined Footprint Coalition to lead scientific and philanthropic efforts last year, will serve as the fund’s Impact Advisor and liaison to the scientific and research communities. Kropa holds a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Virginia and an Archaeology Certificate from UCLA. She chairs the Los Angeles board of Peer Health Exchange, she sits on the Board of Directors of the Environmental Media Association, and she is a member of Sierra Club’s Arts + Entertainment Council.
In addition, the fund will leverage Downey’s creative team and knack for storytelling to help portfolio companies reach a highly engaged audience. Downey’s significant social and traditional media visibility (over 100 million highly engaged followers), combined with creative storytelling, aims to aid the portfolio in myriad ways, from gaining awareness, to attracting talent, to helping them connect with other dynamic minds in the FC universe (whether scientific, financial, political, or beyond) that will help the companies succeed.