26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Gareth Burns, vice-president, Equinor Ventures

In mid-2020, Norwegian state-owned energy company Equinor (formerly Statoil), has merged its two corporate venturing vehicles: Equinor Energy Ventures (EEV) and Equinor Technology Ventures (ETV) to form Equinor Ventures (EV).

Gareth Burns, who oversaw EEV (once Statoil Energy Ventures) as its UK-based managing director, has taken up a vice-president role to oversee the new unit and will continue to be based in London.

Kristin Aamodt, who managed ETV (previously Statoil Technology Invest), departed from the parent firm in July this year to Canada-headquartered venture capital firm ArcTern Ventures and leads its European operations from Oslo, Norway.

Equinor had anchored ArcTern’s second cleantech-focused vehicle in 2018, which closed at C$200m ($153m) in January 2020. Norwegian state-owned fund Nysnø Climate Investments was also among its limited partners, and Aamodt said she will engage with both groups for co-investment initiatives. John Egil Johannessen, a former ETV investment director, had joined Nysnø in 2019.

Burns targeted growth-stage renewable energy investment opportunities on behalf of EEV and operated alongside Aamodt’s ETV which focused on early oil and gas companies. The formation of EEV signalled Equinor’s ambition at the time to introduce specialised capabilities to focus on cleaner energy innovation in a bid to maintain a foothold in a developing part of the energy industry.

The newly combined fund invests globally in startups that are developing innovative products and technologies in the energy supply chain. EV can provide entrepreneurs with the corporate’s technical and financial know-how, as well as an accelerator and incubator scheme dubbed Equinor & Techstars Energy Accelerator​, venture capital and early-phase project funding.

Equinor has most recently participated in fusion energy technology developer Commonwealth Fusion Systems’ $84m round in May 2020 and wind energy maintenance technology provider SkySpecs’ $17m series C round in December 2019, having also backed grid management technology developer Sunverge’s $11m round four months before.

EV’s mission is to seek out startups that can potentially create an impact on Equinor’s health, safety and environment guidelines, strategically enhance its current lines of business and reduce operational costs. The vehicle will also act as a liaison between the corporate and emerging technologies.

In March 2019, Equinor formed a research agreement through EEV with US government-owned research laboratory Argonne National Laboratory through a $180m battery technology fund it had backed alongside speciality chemicals supplier Albemarle and energy company Exelon.

Equinor’s approach to energy still centres on oil and gas, though Norway’s location and the company’s experience in offshore infrastructure make offshore wind a natural fit, and it is co-developing some considerably sized projects off the coast of the UK.

The group is also looking to bolster its solar and onshore wind capabilities as well as its presence in other sectors more directly related to the grid.

Burns, who holds a bachelor of science degree in actuarial science from Heriot-Watt University and is a fellow at Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, has spent most of his career at Equinor and its predecessor Statoil, from 1994.

GCV Powerlist 2020 PDF