Robert Downey Jr. Launches Venture Fund for Sustainable Technology

Robert Downey Jr.
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The group has already invested in a handful of companies, including environmental storytelling firm Arcadia and tree-free paper company CloudPaper.

A year and a half after announcing that he would form a coalition to protect the environment, Robert Downey Jr. is offering more details about how he'll achieve that goal.

The Iron Man actor is launching FootPrint Coalition Ventures to invest in sustainable technologies, he revealed Wednesday at the World Economic Forum.

FPCV will function as an investment vehicle known as a rolling fund that is open to new investors on a continuous basis. The group, which is working with investment platform AngelList to open itself up to potential investors, will comprise two funds — one for early-stage companies and one for late-stage ventures — with a goal of investing nearly $100 million per year, per managing partner Jonathan Schulhof.

The venture fund comes out of a lengthy process of listening and learning that followed Downey's 2019 announcement about the launch of the FootPrint Coalition. "Sometimes you just need to speak something into obligation," he tells The Hollywood Reporter, explaining that he spent the last 18 months meeting with scientists, engineers and technologists to come up with the best path to cleaning up the environment.

Schulhof, who co-leads FPCV with Steve Levin, adds that after that listening period, the coalition was ready to "take this to the next level and achieve the scale that's really going to be required to make a dent in the challenges we face as a species."

FootPrint Coalition's existing portfolio companies include environmental storytelling firm Arcadia, tree-free paper company CloudPaper, biotech company RWDC Industries, natural fertilizer producer Ynsect and neobank Aspiration.

Former CAA Foundation co-managing director Rachel Kropa serves as the fund's impact adviser, helping to connect it to the science and research communities and to do scientific due diligence on potential investments. An investment committee, on which Downey sits, makes final decisions. Schulhof says that committee is looking for technologies that make an impact on the environment, strong founding teams, defensible business models and the ability to scale.

For companies, working with FootPrint Coalition means tapping into Downey's powerful network and audience, as well as his knack for storytelling. He says getting the message out about these companies is an important part of the fund's mandate. "It's just connecting folks outside the usual silo," he says. "Our initial feedback has been, 'We didn't know that we needed this, but now we're realizing that this is a force multiplier and there's something super beneficial about it.'"