1955 Capital, a freshly-minted VC founded by former Khosla Ventures partner Andrew Chung, has closed a $200 million USD fund aimed at helping developing countries, and the first country on the fund’s roadmap is China.
The fund will draw on innovations from America and Europe to solve a diverse set of challenges, including China’s air pollution, food contamination, manufacturing sustainability and the healthcare issues associated with an aging population.
“We believe that China, India, and other developing countries face fundamental challenges that put the future of their societies at risk and place severe pressure on governments and business leaders for solutions,” said Mr. Chung in a release on Wednesday. “We founded 1955 Capital because we believe disruptive technology is critical to solving these issues.”
1955 Capital takes its name from the year that several tech titans were born, including Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt and Vinod Khosla.
China has seen an upsurge in sustainable investment from tech titans over the past year. Following the December 2015 Paris climate change talks, Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma and Sequoia Capital Partner Neil Shen joined US billionaires including Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates to create a coalition aimed at developing zero carbon energy. During his speech at the talks Mr. Ma also discussed a similar coalition of investors within China working on sustainable goals.
In October 2015 Apple announced construction plans for several high-power solar energy facilities in China aimed at eventually offsetting 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas annually, roughly equivalent to removing 4 million vehicles from the road for one year.
Despite a drop in China’s overall manufacturing, driven by a slowing economy, the country still suffers from the environmental pains of an emerging manufacturing hub, including unsustainable work practices, low wages and high carbon emissions. A study released in August 2015 revealed that outdoor air pollution contributes to an estimated 1.6 million deaths every year in China.
During his time at Khosla Partners, Mr. Chung invested in LanzaTech, a US company working in China that specializes in converting exhaust from steel mills into less harmful gasses. Mr. Chung said the investment was one of the inspirations for his new fund, noting that supporting American innovation with Chinese capital was one of the primary goals of the project.
Mr. Chung and 1955 Capital have not confirmed who contributed to their $200 million USD fund, though they did note that the fund intends to expand beyond China, potentially targeting India, South East Asia and Africa.