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Temasek, EnterpriseSG sign MOU with Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy to support SEA climate-tech solutions

Jovi Ho
Jovi Ho • 3 min read
Temasek, EnterpriseSG sign MOU with Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy to support SEA climate-tech solutions
Temasek’s Thum, Breakthrough Energy Fellows’ Grosh and EnterpriseSG’s Khoo at the MOU signing on April 15. Photo: Temasek
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Temasek and Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG) have signed a memorandum of understanding with Breakthrough Energy (BE), the climate organisation founded by Bill Gates, to establish Breakthrough Energy Fellows Southeast Asia (BE Fellows — SEA) with a joint funding commitment over the next three years. 

The Singapore-based programme will support Southeast Asia innovators and drive the commercialisation of deep-tech climate technologies. 

Announced at Ecosperity Week 2024 on April 15, BE Fellows — SEA marks the first BE Fellows hub outside of the US. It aims to tackle early-stage barriers to climate technology innovation in Southeast Asia and accelerate the development of climate technologies that have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gases at scale and contribute towards global net-zero targets. 

BE Fellows — SEA will provide researchers, scientists, engineers and technology innovators in the region with funding and support to help take their promising climate solutions to the next stage of development and commercialisation. 

Through the programme, each participating Fellow’s research will receive an initial US$500,000 ($680,242.50) grant for further development and technology de-risking. 

They will also gain access to a global network of industry partners, mentors, investors and experts, as they develop, demonstrate and commercialise their solutions for a clean energy future, with potential to receive follow-on funding from the same programme.

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These collective efforts aim to help the Fellows with technology advancement, commercialisation fundamentals, and go-to-market strategies as they work to scale their solutions for wide-spread adoption. 

Across the first three cohorts of Breakthrough Energy Fellows, teams have raised over US$150 million in follow-on funding and created more than 200 full-time jobs. 

The climate gap

See also: Temasek Trust, DBS Foundation, UBS Optimus Foundation launch new digital impact marketplace

Addressing the climate gap, especially in Southeast Asia, requires concerted efforts by public and private stakeholders to identify actionable and investable business opportunities and accelerators to unlock decarbonisation outcomes, say the three parties. 

In Southeast Asia alone, a US$1.5 trillion investment gap needs to be bridged from now till 2030, and substantially more until 2050 to meet its net-zero target. 

Russell Tham, head of emerging technologies at Temasek, says there is an “urgent imperative” to bridge the capabilities gap in climate-tech innovation in Southeast Asia. “Breakthrough Energy’s extensive global science, investment and innovation ecosystem, coupled with Temasek’s global sustainability focus, has been and will continue to be a powerful and complementary combination. We are confident that this tripartite Fellows programme will catalyse a new wave of tech innovations in Singapore and Southeast Asia that can contribute towards solving our global climate challenge.” 

Cindy Khoo, managing director at Enterprise Singapore, says deep-tech innovations can help solve climate change challenges, but start-up founders often face “early-stage roadblocks” as they take their technologies from lab to market. “We need to be deliberate in providing climate-tech innovators with the right support needed to develop and commercialise new, game-changing solutions more quickly.”

Ashley Grosh, vice-president, Breakthrough Energy Fellows, says climate solution innovators require tailored resources and support. “That’s why we established the Breakthrough Energy Fellows programme. We are excited to deepen our commitment to early-stage innovation through the launch of a regional hub in Singapore. With its strategic location, thriving ecosystem, and unwavering commitment to sustainability, Singapore is an ideal epicentre for nurturing climate innovation in Southeast Asia and beyond.”

More information and application details for BE Fellows — SEA will be announced in 2H2024. 

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