Written for Blue Patch by Nick Lyth, Founder and President
The Green Angel story is the story of a mission: to bring new access to a greener world through investment in innovation. The idea is to open the door to the changes we all want to see in our environment, its health, its safety, its capacity to support all life as we know it, by creating the opportunity to invest in businesses innovating with the technology needed to develop it.
Green Angel Syndicate was first established in 2013, when it was quite apparent to me that technologies innovating in the crucial areas of resource use – renewable energy, water management, food & agriculture, waste & recycling – were being ignored or under-resourced because the investment world simply was not paying attention to them; and the people who were inventing the new technologies did not know how to raise their interest let alone their investment.
So good ideas, real breakthroughs in technology required to transform manufacturing and production processes away from their hydro-carbon dependence, were lying unused and ignored when the world most needed them.
Green Angel Syndicate was created to offer an investment capability to those entrepreneurs and inventors that would bring these ideas to viable commercial life. At the same time, it was designed to offer investors who had not previously had any opportunity to use their investment capability to any effect whatever in the mission to improve our world the chance to do so now.
Angel investment for start-up and early-stage companies
Of course, this meant what we call angel investment. The businesses requiring such investment were – and are – characteristically start-up or early-stage companies. Many have not started to trade because they are still developing their product or technology. They need more money than they can afford for research and development.
Angel investment is, of its nature, very high risk. Most start-up businesses fail in their first year; of those which survive, a majority fail in their second year. It is not an investment decision that provides security, exposed as it is to the highest possible risk. For this reason, angel investors are thin on the ground. And they will only invest sums they can afford to lose, the majority of their investments being in much safer, lower risk sectors. (Economist Nicholas Taleb once described them as the most attractive investments you can make, because they offer an asymmetric upside. You know precisely what the downside is, complete loss of your money, but you have no idea what the upside might be. It could be twice what you put in, ten times what you put in, a hundred times, or even a thousand times. There is no other way of investing your money that compares with this.)
A specialist service to investors and founders
But from the start, Green Angel Syndicate was founded on the premise that it would offer a specialist service to investors and founders alike. This would minimise the risk of failure, because the deals selected for investment would be in companies which the Syndicate understands. This remains the philosophy of the company. It is thus no accident that the current record of the syndicate is 41 invested companies, with not a single one going bust as yet – an unprecedented record among UK angel syndicates, but no accident at all.
I tend to say to people who question our ability to deliver a return, and think this is more a philanthropic concern, that our purpose is not to help them make money. Our purpose is to help them fight climate change. If we are successful, as we have been to date and we must continue to be, then you will make money. We cannot afford for our portfolio companies to go bust. Climate change will not wait. If any of our companies goes bust, we have wasted time in the fight to arrest it and that defeats our entire purpose. Even more important, if our investments do not help to develop commercially successful companies that develop global sales, their impact will be insignificant. Commercial success is integral to our mission, our own commercial success, and the commercial success of every one of the companies in which we invest.
Fortunately we are achieving both. But in the years that we have enjoyed this success, there has been no room for complacency. We might have built a successful syndicate, but the wider world has not even got close to slowing down the carbon emissions that are causing global warming. They are still increasing, and are not expected to reach their peak until 2027 or 2028. This means the ambition to reach Net Zero is still decades away.
Climate change and the effect on the global community
We are travelling too slowly as a global economy to prevent our global community from being severely damaged by Climate Change. It is already happening. The UK’s June temperatures set records which have caused water shortages throughout the South-East of England. Meanwhile, during the same period, Texas and Kuwait saw temperatures escalating into the 50’s. These are uninhabitable levels of heat.
There is little doubt that reality is bad for many of us, and shows no signs of getting better. There are headlines of apocalyptic gloom in gathering numbers. This trend is recent. As little as five years ago, the extreme weather events reported in the media were occasional. Now, they are almost daily. Climate Change is happening already, and changing all of our lives.
Hence, we believe we cannot rest on our laurels at Green Angel Syndicate. We have plans to grow which we are already putting into effect. We are expanding into Fund Management, we have launched an EIS Fund, we have attracted a £10 million commitment from UK Government to match our Fund investments (which match our Syndicate investments), and we are planning the launch of a £50 million Series A Fund, and we have changed the company name to reflect this expansion. We are now called Green Angel Ventures.
This plan is all based on the same premise – our specialisation in the fight against climate change. As our investment base broadens, and our investments increase, we remain true to the fundamental principle. Every investment will make a contribution to reducing carbon emissions, which is essential to arrest and reverse global warming, which is essential to arresting and reversing climate change. Carbon emissions are the direct cause. The concentration of carbon in the atmosphere prevents the sun’s heat from escaping. By increasing the concentration to levels unknown in the history of the human race, we have changed the nature of the climate on which human life and all the plant and animal life we know has depended for the last 10,000 years – the Holocene Period, as it is known.
We believe that the way we manage carbon now will determine whether the human race is viable in future. All of our investments are designed to reduce carbon emissions and remove carbon from the atmosphere. Our mission is implacably serious. We hope you might join us in the fight. Together we can win.
Find out more about Green Angel Ventures on their website at https://greenangelsyndicate.com/
Please note: The information in this article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute financial advice. Always seek the advice of a financial advisor before purchasing any financial product. No warranty, whether express or implied, is given in relation to the information included in this article or the linked websites.