Responsible investment and super fund manager Australian Ethical (ASX:AEF) has awarded $500k to fund the next solutions in Australia’s tech and climate space through its 2021 Visionary Grants.

Every year Australian Ethical donates 10pc of its profits to its philanthropic entity the Australian Ethical Foundation but this time the foundation has leveraged one of the biggest investment mega trends in human history – aligning capital and impact to solve the climate crisis.

According to new research out of Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing, around 85% of the general population and 95% of millennial investors are interested in sustainable investing, with climate issues taking top priority.

Morgan Stanley head of investing with impact managing director Lily Trager says although the challenges of combating climate change require a global effort, the opportunity to invest in a more resilient and positive future while meeting individual financial goals does exist.

“Investors increasingly are exploring ways to drive positive climate outcomes using a range of products, including mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and separately managed accounts,” she said.

The Visionary Grants were launched this year taking the place of AEF’S long-running Community Grants with more than 200 expressions of interest received.

Visionary grants support solutions with positive impact

In line with the Glasgow Breakthroughs at COP26 – the first set of leader-led common targets across key sectors including hydrogen and power before 2030 launched by the United Kingdom and a coalition of 42 world leaders – the wealth management company said the visionary grants focus on climate-tech solutions that will drive positive environmental and social impact.

“Nations have come together to make clean technologies and sustainable solutions the most affordable, accessible, and attractive option in each emitting sector globally before 2030,” Australian Ethical CEO John McMurdo said.

“And we while applaud this commitment we also believe that continued public and private collaboration is needed to accelerate the uptake, scale, and impact.

“That is why we have focused on climate-tech solutions and we could not be more proud of the innovations presented by organisations like CQU, Climate KIC, Original Power, and the Seabin Foundation.”

World’s first integrated ocean energy marketplace among winners

As an example, grant recipient Climate KIC is building the world’s first technology platform to run an Integrated Ocean Energy Marketplace to address the lack of market demand for ocean energy in the ‘Blue Economy’ (coastal businesses, communities, and industries) and recipient Original Power is improving energy security for First Nations communities in the Northern Territory.

It plans to do this by replacing the reliance on expensive diesel-fired power with a distributed energy micro-grid utilising solar and battery storage.

Recipient researchers at Central Queensland University will reseed more than 20 hectares of seagrass within the Port of Gladstone using drones for targeted seed dispersal, demonstrating a new method of seagrass restoration that is scalable across Australia. Seabin Foundation will install the first Seabin 6.0 Data Monitoring Unit (DMU) in Sydney Harbour.

The foundation hopes to collect marine debris 24/7 and provide important data on ocean pollutants.


Each project scored on a set of criteria

Head of the Australian Ethical Foundation Nick Chadwick said while all winning projects are fighting climate change by using a different set of tools, each have a common objective to support the planet we live on.

“Every project is analysed using our impact assessment framework which scores a project on a set of key criteria.

“Key criteria include things like a project’s theory of change, the ability to measure its impact, the skills and experience of the team behind the project, and how efficiently our funding will be used to create impact,” he said.

“With our new targeted focus on climate change solutions, we were unable to unearth a whole set of projects and organisations that we hadn’t worked with in the past and has enabled us to build new relationships that we hope to grow into the future.”