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Social Ventures PDF Print E-mail

During my time in San Francisco I joined the "Hub" and really grew to appreciate the Social Entreprenurs who used its shared working space. It deepened my commitment to the space between charities and businesses.

Charity doesn’t scale to meet the needs of billions, and corporate greed cannot be satisfied by the poorest of the poor, which is why basic human needs remain unmet despite the existence of (technical) solutions, and scaling solutions is one of my passions.

Between these two models lies the emerging area of Social Ventures, where an entity operates like a business, but is driven by a mission rather than only by profit. Social Ventures range from Charities with a business activity, through to Corporations acting responsibility.

It is somewhere in the middle where I believe my ideal model lies, organisations where the mission is crucial to the organisation, and not just an add-on, and where finance is only required to get it going e.g. to for example to create and bring to market a technology, but where the solutions can be provided on a commercially viable basis, because the cost has been dropped to a point where the poor can afford it.

Since I'm focused on the early stages of technology, the question is where the funding will come from, and what the equivalent of venture capital is, in the area of impact investing. I led a session at the excellent SoCap conference on this topic, where I was also interviewed for the Uptake.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 February 2012 11:42
 
Introduction to Natural Innovation PDF Print E-mail

I've been on a quest - that started with asking once again, how I could be most effective in making a difference. So here is the story so far ...

I started the journey of creating the Natural Innovation Foundation in November 2009 during a trip to check out some technologies for UES and for a new investment fund I was advising. During the trip, a realisation crystalized that the technologies with the highest potential to impact our planet, and in particularly the billions without adequate supplies of food, clean water & energy were not going to be funded by classical philanthropy because it was averse to risk, especially technical risk, nor would it be funded by venture capital because there was unlikely to be sufficient return because of the poverty of the customers, and in many cases the difficulty of protecting the Intellectual Property.

So I transformed my consultancy, Natural Innovations, to focus on supporting clean technology innovations with high potential impact.

For me personally, its been a challenging 15 months, during which I've only been home (Byron Bay, Australia) for about 8 weeks. This will be the first time in over ten years I'm not home for the solstice / xmas / new-years holiday. But I've enjoyed living in many places, ten countries in all, including reasonably long stints in India, Indonesia, Germany, Portugal, and the US. I really want to thank the people who have opened their homes and hearts to me, especially Brewster & Mary in San Francisco; Rachel, Rob & Johnny in Bali; Nikhil, Tanmayo, Freeman & Mario in India; Wendelin & Khabira in Freiburg & everyone else who lent me a bed along the way.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 February 2012 11:43
 
Social Capital video featuring Mitra Ardron PDF Print E-mail

Several clips of an interview at SoCap10 with Mitra Ardron appear in this video by the Uptake explaining Social Capital and Social Ventures.

Last Updated on Saturday, 16 April 2011 17:00
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Project - Sunvention PDF Print E-mail

I SunPulse Waterfirst came across Sunvention when I was looking for some technology for UES to improve energy efficiency in their greenhouses. We traveled to Tamera in Portugal and met Jürgen Kleinwächter there. Apart from it being appropriate to UES, it was clear to me that this was the most impressive set of under-exploited technologies in terms of its potential impact in developing countries. Since June I've been helping Jürgen to go through a serious restructure caused by the internal problems of its majority investor. We've been exploring the opportunities both for commercial funding, and also for reorganizing Sunvention as a Social Venture, focused on how to maximise its impact, rather than generate a return. I came out to Germany after SoCap and am still here. At this time, we are still looking for investors or donors that might be interested either in the core venture, or in specific projects.

As just one example - they have developed and tested the SunPulse Water, a solar thermal water pump. It will be affordable to millions of farmers who couldn't afford the running cost of comparable diesel pumps, or the capital cost of photovoltaics. It is expected to cost about 1/3 of the price of either, per liter pumped, overall. Because of delays raising finance, I've just postponed a trip to India to talk to potential distributors, one of which has indicated a likely demand for 50,000 (over €50m) in their state alone. Sunvention is currently looking for ten sites to purchase and test these pumps in a variety of environments. {More}

Many organisations have done interesting work improving the combustion efficiency of stoves to reduce the amount of wood required and the health impact of smoke. Sunvention has an interesting alternative approach, using a simple oxygen generator to allow the burning of even really low quality biomass such as crop residues, grass clippings etc. I'm hoping to help Sunvention raise some finance to complete some prototypes, and to open-source this project.

I'm interested in talking to anyone interested from either a philanthropic or investment perspective.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 February 2012 11:42
 
Solar Power Villages PDF Print E-mail

This article on Sunvention's Solar Power Villages is also available as a PDF article

Autonomous power for villages

Sunvention have developed a collection of technologies for meeting the food and energy needs of eco-villages and developing country villages.

Last Updated on Friday, 05 November 2010 09:35
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Innovation: SunPulse Water - solar thermal water pump PDF Print E-mail

Sunvention pump at Tamera test site Sunvention have developed an integrated solar thermal water pump, possibly the first cost-effective solution to village-scale pumping in sunbelt countries.

Last Updated on Saturday, 30 April 2011 18:52
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