Business Technology

Trillion Fund: Creating "off the grid" crowdfunding for the renewables generation

3 min read

04 March 2015

Trillion Fund, featured in this year's Everline Future 50 list, was founded in 2011 by Michael Stein and Phillip Riches to open up opportunities to profit from clean energy to everyone, through crowdfunding.

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Name: Trillion Fund
Industry/sector: Energy and finance
Date founded: 2012
Founders: Michael Stein and Philip Riches
Location: London

According to their website, they had a big ambition – to help drive forward the $1tn of annual global investment required to reach the scale of clean energy generation needed to prevent further global warming – and to give people good returns on their investment into the bargain.

Stein stumbled across the idea for Trillion after a meeting with James Lovelock, the scientist who formulated the Gaia Hypothesis in the late 1960s. In a phrase, the theory suggested that “life maintains conditions suitable for its own survival”. The Earth could be compared to an individual organism that regulated body temperature and blood salinity, and so on.

“That meeting is what woke me up to the challenge,” said Stein. “I realised that as important as a global remit is, unless you can actually move money and capital and invest into renewable energy infrastructure, we weren’t going to be able to turn off the fossil fuel taps.”

Vivienne Westwood, the fashion designer and environmentalist, became a majority stakeholder in March 2013, while Albion London, the creative design and marketing agency, took a stake in April 2014.

Fashion icon Westwood stated: “We’re now at a point where we are aware of the incredible danger we face. Where I’m coming from is very simple – what’s good for the planet is good for the economy.

“Trillion Fund is creating the opportunity to invest in renewable energy on the level where people who’ve only got £50 can put their money into it.”

Julia Groves, managing director at Trillion Fund, added: “The beauty of renewable energy is that, because of the size of the projects, they lend themselves well to crowdfunding – it’s not likely you’ll see any crowdfunding for fossil projects. It gives ordinary people and investors the chance to get a financial return whilst helping the UK to generate more cleaner, greener renewable energy.”

She concluded her passionate speech: “My children won’t be asking ‘daddy what did you do in the war?’ but ‘mummy what did you do to fight climate change?’”

In July 2014, the company merged with Buzzbnk, the UK’s first crowdfunding platform for the social enterprise sector. 

With 14,000 users, the combined entity has become the biggest social crowdfunding platform in the UK, enabling social and sustainable projects to access potential funding of up to £500m and is targeting half a million crowdfunders by the end of 2017.

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