30 November 2009 – Lend Lease Ventures, the venture capital arm of Lend Lease, will tap into the expected growth market in electric vehicles, staking a claim in Better Place Australia, a company that will build a charging and services network for the emerging industry.

LLV has committed the lion’s share of a $25 million package of  seed funding, along with ActewAGL and several private investors, to Better Place Australia and will take a place on its board.

The move is just one of a number of clean tech investments for  Lend Lease, which is seeking to increase its exposure to this sector.

Chief Executive Officer of Lend Lease Ventures Anthony Pascoe said that in the last 18 months, Lend Lease Ventures had committed close to $40 million in a variety of clean tech industries including:

  • Windlab Systems, a multi-national wind energy development company with a strong
    presence in Australia and selected offshore markets;
  • Diamond Energy, an accredited Australian green electricity generator and retailer;
  • BioPower Systems, a wave and tidal energy technology developer; and
  • WJP Solutions Pty Ltd, a leader in the provision of water recycling solutions in the
    property sector

He pointed to regulation across Europe, the US and more recently in Australia to reduce global demand on fossil fuels that had driven “billions of dollars” into clean tech industries .

In Australia, the federal government’s Renewable Energy Target Scheme, had also mandated that by 2020, 20 percent of Australia’s electricity supply will come from renewable sources, he said.

Mr Pascoe said:“Better Place Australia plans to build an electric vehicle network capable of supporting the switch of Australia’s 12 million passenger vehicles to zero emission sources.

“Better Place Australia intends to source all of its electricity from clean energy (such as wind, solar) and this could ultimately eliminate all carbon emissions from Australia’s personal road transport sector responsible for almost eight percent of our nation’s carbon dioxide emissions.”

The team would look for more such investments, Mr Pascoe said, “ideally companies that are at the expansion capital stage of their life cycle and looking for an experienced investment partner and in many instances, a commercialisation partner.”

A media statement by founder and CEO, Better Place Shai Agassi said that the $25 million in funding represented the first part of Better Place Australia’s five-year plan to raise $1 billion for the deployment of an EV network powered by renewable energy in Australia.

“This initial round of seed funding will finance a range of planning, engineering, demonstration andtrial activities in the lead up to the first stage of deployment, which will commence in Canberra in 2011,” Mr Agassi said.

“We’re delighted to welcome Lend Lease Ventures as an investor in our Australian
business – working with us to help the country take a generational leap forward toward oil
independence and sustainability.”

He said that last financial year, venture capital funds invested almost $200 million in Australia of which approximately 16 per cent was invested in the cleantech sector.  This level of investment was dwarfed by the US$2.7 billion which was invested in the cleantech sector alone in the US over  the same period.  At a global level, total cleantech investments as a percentage of total venture capital investments reached 27 percent in Q2 2009.

tperinotto@thefifthestate.com.au

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