Government will continue to go green, but private investors can help things along nicely


Published 9th June 23

By Kalyan Sarma, VP – Climate, Environment & Sustainability

The shadow Chancellor, Rachael Reeves MP, had a plan for Labour at the next election, that involved the investment of £28bn per year into a green prosperity plan. Early today, that plan was effectively changed to be a “ramp up towards” the figure initially quoted annually by the end of Labour’s first term in power.

Whilst this doesn’t really have the same oomph as the initial idea of an investment set aside and laid out as soon as the government switched, it is still commendable, and absolutely not to be sniffed at. However, without set-in-stone and certainty in policy, the opportunity, the attraction, and the need to boost our green credentials will continue to be limp. As climate change, our environment, and the question of all things sustainable continues to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds, investment in green technology, whether hardware or software, must no longer be considered a nice to have, but a crucial to have. Policy needs to reflect this, and start with a bang.

Government’s investment in green technology and sustainability will, of course, continue. There is no way that it cannot. Climate change is happening faster and at a more serious rate than we could have hoped, and with that comes additional challenges. Food security for one, the quickening of pace towards electric vehicles, water security too. This isn’t even beginning to look at data analysis to help predict environmental disasters in certain areas around the world that the UK government would be able to provide to continue its own soft-power projection.

However, although this investment is continuing, one could argue that it isn’t enough. Which is where private investment in that very same government research can come in. The fact is that government has these brilliant minds, with brilliant ideas, who are unhindered to an extent by profit initially, so they have the time to commit to blue-sky thinking. This is where GPS came from after all. Private investors have the capital to put into green initiatives, and really begin to shift the narrative of VC investment from immediacy and short-term gains, to thinking about what is going to actually benefit the world as a whole, and the generation after next.

Whether it’s software or hardware, modelling or new types of windmills, the opportunity for outside investment to be there at the beginning of the next GPS, microwave, or rocket technology within sustainable and environmental research is right there. It’s ripe for the taking, and has the potential to be bigger than anything we may have seen before. It’s ready to be invested in, and it’s willing to have that external help.

The adage of People, Planet, Profit must be at the forefront of any organisation when it comes to new research. The three Ps are incredibly important and need to be kept in mind – always. And for VCs, to be seen to be investing and truly believing in this outlook, patient capital rather than looking at a short-term opportunity, can only be a good thing. Now is the time to make a difference, and a difference, to research that comes out of government and goes towards making an impact on the world.