SAP founder Hasso Plattner invests in green South Africa

You're rich. You've got golf courses and all sorts of toys. Why not start a venture fund?

It seems to be the latest fad among the SAP crowd. First, Shai Agassi raises $200 million for Project Better Place, which hopes to install electric charging stations and kick start the electric car industry.

Now Hasso Plattner, SAP's founder, has raised a fund, approximately worth $45 million, to invest in start-ups in South Africa, according to publications in that country. A portion of the funds will go to clean-tech companies. Originally from Germany, Plattner currently owns golf courses in South Africa.

Like many nations (Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, the U.S., China, and Japan), South Africa has set its sights on being a center for clean-technology development. It has universities, a government interested in creating high-tech exports, and quite a bit of sun. That's important if you want to experiment with solar. South Africa also has a lot of experience in making liquid car fuel out of coal. During the Apartheid era, it was tough for the country to get oil. Thus, it erected Fischer-Tropsch plants. With oil trading around $100 a barrel, some believe that liquid fuel from coal could become popular. (The emissions on liquid coal, however, are not good.)

So far, however, South Africa's main tech exports have been emigrants such as Elon Musk (Tesla Motors, SpaceX, PayPal) and Lyndon Rive (Solar City).

 

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