In a recent interview with Investment and Pensions Europe, I discussed the important linkages between investment opportunities in the circular economy and the role of long-term institutional investors. Pension funds and insurance companies have the potential to underpin the move to a circular economy.
Now entrepreneurs do not often associate pension funds and insurance companies with sources of innovation finance. Yet long-term institutional investors such as these are crucial sources of patient capital for Venture Capital funds (which back early-stage startups), large corporations (which acquire successful startups), and project finance funds (which provide the funding for mass deployment of new technologies in energy and infrastructure).
The circular economy opportunity is potentially larger than the ‘cleantech’ opportunity – as it both encompasses many aspects of low-carbon technologies and goes beyond to include key areas of resource movements through the modern economy.
If pension funds and institutional investors understand where the industry might be moving to over a 5, 10, 20-year horizon, then these investors can also help the corporate entities and investment funds in which they have holdings by helping them shape their strategies towards such a transition path. For better or worse, Europe and particularly the UK are seen as leaders in environmental and waste regulation, and that is an advantage for European companies. It is also a unique opportunity for UK and EU VCs to spot and invest in future leaders.
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