Google dot org blog - News from Googles Philanthropic Arm

Drivers, start your batteries!

Posted by Kirsten Olsen

Since launched the RechargeIT initiative in June as part of our efforts to stop global warming, a lot has happened in the world of plug-in vehicles. Automakers have made key announcements about future plans for plug-ins. Our grantee, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), along with Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), released a comprehensive assessment that found that widespread use of plug-in hybrids could dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The charge for electrified transportation is heating up, and we couldn't be more excited. But consumers still can't buy plug-in vehicles – and that's a problem. It's time for us to put some money where our mouth is and help accelerate mass commercialization of plug-in vehicles.

Today, has issued a request for investment proposals (RFP) to the tune of $10 million in order to advance sustainable transportation solutions. We are inviting entrepreneurs and companies to show us their best ideas on how they can contribute to this important cause. We need catalytic investments to support technologies, products and services that are critical to accelerating plug-in vehicle commercialization. That is why we have structured this RFP to offer investment dollars to for-profit companies to promote social and environmental change. The severity of global warming requires solutions from NGOs, governments, individuals and (very importantly) the private sector. We have already made $1 million in grants to a group of outstanding non-profit organizations, and want to expand our impact by spurring innovation in the private sector. While $10 million is a fraction of the total investment needed to transform our transportation sector, we hope this RFP will help catalyze a broader response. We need the automakers to bring these cars to market, but plug-in vehicles also need an entire ecosystem of companies to flourish.

We realize that this type of open call for proposals is not the usual model for investment, but we wanted to use a process that was open to new ideas and new entrants. Part of our goal is to get as many people as possible to work on solutions to our vehicle emissions challenges. We welcome and expect to receive submissions from a wide variety of companies -- from cutting edge battery technologies to innovative service businesses – and from companies of all sizes. We also encourage participants from all over the world to submit proposals. This is a global challenge, and it will take all of us to solve it.

This open RFP process is a new approach to mission-focused investing, and we're interested to see what we can learn from it, both in terms of opportunities and gaps that exist in this space today, as well as ways that we can improve on this solicitation process for future investments. Our focus on learning is the primary reason we decided to narrow this first RFP to investments in private companies, rather than a combination of grants and investments.

We will continue to make grants as part of RechargeIT and other programs, but we're excited today to announce our first foray into investments.To learn more, read the RFP.

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