French energy utility EDF launches cleantech venture capital fund


French energy  utility EDF has joined forces with private equity firm Idinvest Partners to launch Electranova Capital, an investment fund for energy start-ups specialising in environmentally-friendly technologies.

The fund will be endowed with a minimum investment of €60m and said it aims to encourage the emergence of innovative projects by financing young companies in the energy sector that it believes have strong potential for growth.

EDF is providing a €30m cornerstone commitment to Electranova Capital while Allianz, the first financial investor to come onboard, is committing €10m to the fund.

EDF was unable to comment on the potential overall target of the fund but a statement said discussions are underway with other partners and a search for investors will continue throughout 2012.

The venture fund is likely to have a broad investment focus as the utility hinted that smart grids, electric vehicles, energy efficiency and energy storage may all be within its remit.

EDF said it will leverage its 2,000-strong research and development team and said the fund will provide an opportunity for start-ups to forge ties and nurture partnerships with its researchers and other departments.

The development comes as incoming French President François Hollande, who previously said he would reduce the country’s dependence on nuclear energy, takes power.

EDF has also recently won, alongside partner Alstom, 2GW of offshore wind development rights in French waters as the country’s diversification strategy continues. It has also recently taken over the bankrupt solar company Photowatt International.

The fund will invest in start-ups both in France and across the rest of Europe.

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