The TRANSITION Forum is a place for startups, investors, innovators, and leaders to gather, discuss, and — most importantly — take action against the climate emergency. Its mission is “to accelerate the shift to a low-carbon future by mobilizing a global community of stakeholders to catalyze concrete solutions for humans to prosper while preserving our planet.” By gathering together people from the far corners of the earth, the Forum enables key partnerships, investments, and collaborations that lead to climate action.
On the heels of a second successful Forum in June 2019, we spoke with Lionel Le Maux, Co-Founder of the TRANSITION Forum and Chairman of Aqua Asset Management in France. He is also Founder of Evergaz, Founder and Managing Director of Flinvest, and has invested 30 million euros in various companies in the environment sector. Here we discuss the Forum’s founding mission and Le Maux’s perspective on investment in cleantech.
Why are you personally passionate about financing cleantech?
Financing cleantech and the ecological transition means being at the crossroads of funding, the way people’s daily lives are impacted by climate change, and the technologies that make change happen. It is a question of replacing fixed and rising expenses — spending on fossil fuels or related to the over consumption of energy — with an investment in products and services. This will simultaneously reduce consumption and employ clean technologies. It is a complete paradigm shift, and that’s what makes the subject so exciting.
You co-founded Transition Forum and are currently on the advisory board and a scheduled speaker. What was your mission in founding the Forum?
As I said before, what is exciting about financing the ecological transition is to be at the crossroads of several subjects, which makes the transition itself an ecosystem-level issue that involves numerous actors. The purpose of this forum is to gather in one place all the key players in this transition — financiers, big companies, startups, cities and territories, NGOs, foundations, and members of civil society — who are all part of the solution to accelerating the ecological transition. Our mission in founding this forum was to be a catalyst for concrete actions, in particular by facilitating partnerships and collaborations.
What kinds of exciting strategies or solutions have come out of the Forum?
I would say that what’s really exciting is the diversity of solutions that were presented. Today, the ecological transition still seems like a utopia to some people, but in fact it is a reality and it is happening right now.
And we’ve seen during this second edition of the Transition Forum that there are already many startups working on exciting solutions in different areas: from carbon capture to urban farming, to solar self-consumption and urban mobility. In fact, it is fascinating to see that technical solutions to complex issues such as energy storage already exist, but they need to be scaled and mainstreamed.
In this respect, as I said last year, the ecological transition is at the same stage that the digital revolution was about 10 years ago. We need to increase investments to scale the technological solutions and make them cost-effective, sustainable and profitable in order to ensure the ecological transition.
As President of Aqua Asset Management, can you tell us a bit about the company’s investment philosophy and how you fundraise?
Aqua Asset Management focuses on investing in companies linked to the ecological transition — not only pure players, but also companies which are in transition and are in the process of transforming their businesses to embrace more sustainable business models. Our fundraising philosophy stems from my entrepreneurial background and is focused on private equity and family capital. We believe that having a long-term vision is the best way to preserve and leverage this capital.
How specifically does Aqua Asset Management support the transition to a clean economy and a zero-carbon society.
We support the transition in two ways. The first is in our day-to-day activity, investing in companies linked to the ecological transition. The second is by launching the Transition Forum, which bears the same name as our fund and demonstrates our commitment to accompanying the transition to a clean economy. Each year we bring together a large number of key players with the aim of forming collaborations and finding financing for innovative solutions, in order to take action and make a low-carbon future possible
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