On Thursday, January 17 Google.org announced the five focus areas for its philanthrophic efforts for the next five to ten years. These focus areas include ones that address the challenge of climate change. This announcement also contained information on more than $25 million in new grants and investments that Google.org is making in these areas, including $10 million to eSolar, a company that specializes in solar thermal power.
Listed below are the five areas, along with a brief overview as described in the Google.org announcement, as well as selected overview videos:
Focus Area #1 - Accelerate the Commercialization of Plug-In Vehicles (RechargeIT)
RechargeIT is a Google.org initiative that aims to reduce CO2 emissions, cut oil use and stabilize the electrical grid by accelerating the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid technology. Google.org launched a $10 million request for investment proposals this Fall, and will invest amounts ranging from $500,000 to $2 million in selected for-profit companies whose innovative approach, team and technologieseSolar will enable widespread commercialization of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, electric vehicles and/or vehicle-to-grid solutions.
Focus Area #2 - Develop Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal (RE<C)
This cross-Google collaboration has set a goal of producing one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal, within years not decades. The initiative, known as RE<C, was launched in November 2007 and will focus initially on advanced solar thermal power, wind power technologies, enhanced geothermal systems and other potential breakthrough technologies.
[Editor's note: The initial RE<C announcement was covered by Green VC in the post Google Invests in Renewable Energy.]
Focus Area #3 - Predict and Prevent
Google.org supports efforts to empower communities to predict and prevent events before they become local, regional, or global crises, by identifying "hot spots" and enabling a rapid response. Rapid ecological and social changes are increasing the risk of emerging threats, from infectious diseases to drought and other environmental disasters. Google.org is initially focused on Southeast Asia and tropical Africa. In Southeast Asia, a hot spot for SARS and potentially bird flu, Google.org is working with partners to strengthen early warning systems and build local capacities to prevent the next pandemic.
Focus Area #4 - Inform and Empower to Improve Public Services
Google.org works with partners to improve the flow of vital information to improve basic services for the poor in India and East Africa. In many countries in the developing world, essential public services are failing, especially for the poorest members of society. Google.org supports efforts to provide information to empower citizens and communities, providers, and policy makers to improve the delivery of essential public services such as education, health, water and sanitation.
Focus Area #5 - Fuel the Growth of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
Google.org supports efforts to lower transaction costs to invest in SMEs, create opportunities to access larger financial markets and make investments in this sector. SMEs are critical for inclusive economic growth and job creation in the developing world, but lack the capital and tools necessary to succeed. Many micro-enterprises and most large businesses have access to capital through microfinance institutions, banks and capital markets, but SMEs remain extraordinarily underserved, creating a "missing middle." Google.org wants to help increase the flow of capital to "the missing middle" by tackling some of the root causes that prevent these firms from becoming profitable investment opportunities
A replay of a Google.org call discussing yesterday's announcement is available through midnight Thursday, January 24th, 2008 by calling 888-203-1112 (US) or 719-457-0820 (outside the US). The confirmation code for the replay is 4699562. For additional information on Google.org: