In a feature post on Greentech Media, correspondent Katherine Tweed traces the formation of PRIME Coalition, a non-profit launched at last week’s White House summit on clean energy investment to help clean energy companies past the “valley of death” that often kills off new technology ideas before they can be commercialized.
The Coalition “will help foundations make direct investments to address climate change, primarily in the realm of energy, but also in agriculture, water, and waste,” Tweed reports. “PRIME will manage the complex pipeline process of vetting candidates and helping to lower transaction costs for foundations, as well as ensuring they’re adhering to the proper tax rules.”
The idea for PRIME grew out of the realization that philanthropies were having trouble investing in clean energy. Science and technology only receives about US$520 million of the US$50 billion disbursed by U.S. foundations each year, “and rarely does that money go toward commercializing clean energy technology,” she writes. “Legal and tax issues have stymied many foundations that are interested in energy projects for impact investing, since by definition, the money that is granted to help address environmental issues must have a significant and direct benefit.”
PRIME’s initial supporters include the Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation, Blue Haven Initiative, the Chesonis Family Foundation, Echoing Green, Glass Charitable Trust, the Pritzker Innovation Fund, the Stiefel Family Foundation, and the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation. “The whole point of PRIME is to lower the barrier that keeps the philanthropists on the sidelines,” said investment committee member Matthew Nordan. “They want to be involved, but they can’t distinguish a great candidate from a good one from a bad one.”