MIT spinout Commonwealth Fusion Systems has raised the largest funding round yet for a nuclear fusion developer with investors including The Engine.

Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), a US-based fusion energy technology spinout of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, raised more than $1.8bn in its series B round today backed by the institute-aligned venture fund and incubator The Engine. Tiger Global Management led the round, which also attracted an unnamed university endowment as well as oil and gas companies Eni and Equinor, the latter through corporate venturing arm Equinor Ventures, and Google, the internet technology subsidiary of conglomerate Alphabet. Two pension funds, of which only Hostplus was named, contributed to the round, as did Coatue Management, DFJ Growth, Emerson Collective, Footprint Coalition, Jimco’s Technology Fund, JS Capital, Time Ventures, Senator Investment Group and Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Other backers included Fine Structure Ventures, Future Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Lowercarbon, Moore Strategic Ventures, Safar Partners, Schooner Capital, Soros Fund Management, Starlight Ventures and Temasek. Bill Gates and John Doerr also invested in the round together with undisclosed backers. The round is the largest yet for a nuclear fusion company, according to the Wall Street Journal. Founded in 2018, CFS is working on nuclear fusion technology that generates electricity by fusing two nuclei – rather than splitting an atom, as in current nuclear power stations. Researchers have been working on the concept since the Manhattan Project in the 1940s, but so far no commercial plant exists that outputs more energy than it requires to operate. CFS will use the funding to build, commission and operate its fusion machine called Sparc – expected to achieve commercially relevant net energy by 2025 – and to begin work on its first commercial fusion power plant, dubbed Arc – due to be completed in the early 2030s. Bob Mumgaard, chief executive of CFS, commented: “The world is ready to make big investments in commercial fusion as a key part of the global energy transition. “This diverse group of investors includes a spectrum of capital from energy and technology companies to venture capitalists, hedge funds, and university endowments that believe in fusion as a large-scale solution to decarbonise the planet.” CFS has now raised more than $2bn in funding altogether, it confirmed. The Engine backed an $84m series A2 round in May 2020  that was led by Temasek and also included Equinor and Eni’s investment unit Eni Next. Devonshire Investors, Hostplus, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Future Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Moore Strategic Ventures, Safar Partners, Schooner Capital, Starlight Ventures and undisclosed additional investors also backed that round. The Engine had already taken part in a…

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Thierry Heles

Thierry Heles is the editor of Global University Venturing, host of the Beyond the Breakthrough interview podcast and responsible for the monthly GUV Gazette (sign up here for free).