An investment firm founded by tech mogul Bill Gates has invested in an Australian climate technology company that aims to reduce the methane produced by cows.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), which was set up by the Microsoft co-founder in 2015, led a US$12 million funding round into Rumin8, which produces dietary supplements that reduce the emissions from livestock.
Gates has frequently spoken out about meat production’s impact on the climate crisis – animal farming accounts for an estimated 14.5% of all human-derived greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The cash will be used to accelerate Rumin8’s road to commercialisation.
“The demand for sustainable protein has never been more apparent, which is why BEV is keenly interested in reducing methane emissions from beef and dairy,” said Carmichael Roberts, BEV.
“Rumin8 offers a low cost, scalable toolbox that has already proven to be effective in reducing emissions. Our team will support Rumin8 in working closely with farmers to expand the reach of this solution globally.”
Rumin8 scientists have run trials that show red seaweed reduces emissions from cattle, and, instead of ocean-based seaweed cultivation, are reproducing the target compound from the plant rather than mass producing seaweed itself.
Managing director David Messina said: “We have been very pleased with the reception we have received from climate impact funds around the world,” Mr Messina said.
“There is a genuine desire to fund solutions to enteric methane emissions from livestock and fortunately for Rumin8, they can see the benefits of our technology.
“Our laboratory results continue to yield excellent results, our animal trials are reflecting the laboratory results, and the financial modelling we are undertaking is indicating we will be able to supply our products at a commercial price point.”
In December Gates topped the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual list of the 10 largest charitable gifts announced by individuals or their foundations.
He gave $5 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to back the grantmaker’s work in global health, development, policy and advocacy, and US education. Gates, whose net worth is estimated at $104 billion, attracted attention in July when he announced he was giving $20 billion to the foundation he runs with his former wife, Melinda French Gates.
However, foundation officials confirmed in December that three-fourths of that $20 billion went toward paying off the $15 billion he and French Gates had pledged in July 2021. The remaining $5 billion was a new infusion to the foundation.