The humans behind Kiko have been working on climate technology for decades; in the lab, in the field and in the board room; as engineers, operators and investors. Whether it was foundational work on solar cells in the lab at Cambridge, creating the first steel cell at Ceres Power, inventing self-healing materials at EPFL, or pioneering the roll out of solar energy with SolarCentury. From origins as climate practitioners, we’ve dedicated our careers to the environmental cause.
But was it possible to marry environmental impact with financial returns?
With the financial crisis we were told “cut the green crap”*; “stop talking about carbon”; “cleantech doesn’t work”. And then, IP Group provided a home, a harbour, and a sponsor. A place where passionate people could pursue world-changing ideas. We knew cleantech could work and were given the chance to prove it.
We used the opportunity to combine our expertise with the flexibility of IP Group’s evergreen capital to unlock advances in clean technology. Helping companies like Ceres, C-Capture, Dukosi and First Light to bridge the gap from idea to adoption. In a time when few cared, IP Group became the largest funder of cleantech in the UK. Standing out by backing companies often with no revenues but big roles to play in the regenerative future. After years of effort, we started to see that backing entrepreneurs with outrageous ambitions could deliver outsized returns, both commercially and environmentally. Ceres became our first unicorn. Re-built over 8 years from £1m to £1bn. The ‘impossible’ made tangible at scale, with others, we believe, following close behind.
As net zero became front page news, we had the benefit of years spent working alongside cleantech entrepreneurs and a portfolio of carefully nurtured companies to make a difference. We celebrated the shift in sentiment with others who had made it through bad times: a small community, still resolute. People like Arne Morteani, who spent more than a decade helping build one of the few independent cleantech venture firms to make it through the climate doldrums. He became a friend and co-conspirator and had intense conversations with the IP Group team about how to combine the best of the IP Group model with the best from the mainstream venture world. Together, we knew that we could and should do more: going further, faster.
Arne joining the team was the catalyst for Kiko. Using the support and structure provided by IP Group and combining it with the clear climate commitment and decision-making independence of a dedicated cleantech partnership, we’ve set out to create a community that accelerates innovation and amplifies impact, to make a meaningful dent in the fight against climate change. Could we triple down and build even more transformative companies? Could we offer a real contribution to the greatest challenge of our generation? IP Group understood the opportunity and supported us to do just that.
Kiko is the result. A response to our collective frustration with insufficient action and a statement of belief in a different, better future, both for clean technology and for the world as a whole.
*A well-known quote, attributed to David Cameron in 2013.