The top 25: Meghan Sharp, global head, BP Ventures

Meghan Sharp leads UK-headquartered energy company BP’s corporate venturing arm, BP Ventures, as its global head and oversees the corporate’s innovation and engineering pipeline.

Sharp and her team help guide BP’s technical and commercial efforts towards new businesses to achieve net-zero emissions. BP Ventures has invested more than $650m in funding for some 45 portfolio companies.

In the past few months, the unit backed rounds raised by geothermal energy technology developer Eavor, electric vehicle charging system provider FreeWire Technologies, autonomous vehicle software developer Oxbotica and workplace car maintenance service Zippity.

Previously, Sharp had been chief operating officer for a year from 2019 at one of BP Ventures’ portfolio companies, Beyond Limits, which is developing cognitive artificial intelligence technology developed in space that can be applied in various industries.

Another landmark achievement she helped create was promoting gender equity and diversity. She said in 2019 when she was ranked second in Global Corporate Venturing’s Rising Stars award: “I am incredibly proud that of the 10 people in the US, including myself, five of us are women. Two short years ago there was only myself. I proudly inherited two of those women from other groups and for the other two, I ran an incredibly challenging external process to hire the two best candidates I could find – who both happened to be women.

“While widely known that diversity in groups and on boards leads to better outcomes, there is simply a dearth of women in venture capital to serve on those boards. I am immensely proud that one of the many things my team can offer to our portfolio companies beyond cash, is diversity at the board level.”

Before her stint at Beyond Limits, Sharp had been a managing director for Americas at BP Ventures for nearly a decade from 2010. Of the deals she sourced and executed on behalf of the unit at that time, she highlighted microbiome technology developer Taxon in 2013, which led to a successful exit when it was acquired by chemicals producer DuPont three years later.

Prior to joining the VC world, Sharp had been on the academic track. “After receiving my PhD in microbial genetics [from University of California, San Francisco], I was in a post-doctoral position at Stanford’s Carnegie Institute applying for NIH (US National Institutes of Health) transition grants and faculty positions when I changed my mind and became a venture capitalist instead. I decided I wanted to get technology out of lab notebooks and journal articles and out into the world.”

Sharp obtained an MBA in venture capital from Columbia University, having also held several roles at life sciences-focused private VC funds based in New York and San Francisco.