Qatar, Rolls-Royce to plough billions of pounds into green tech startups

Qatar and Rolls-Royce (RR.L) will team up in a multi-billion pound project to develop and invest in green technology start-ups in the UK and the Gulf Arab state which they hope will reach “unicorn” status as worth more than $1 billion.

In a joint statement on Monday they said they aim to create five such fast-growing companies by 2030 and up to 20 by 2040, adding the venture would be based at a pair of science and engineering campuses that Doha will fund in the north of England and in Qatar.

The partners said the campuses would be testing grounds for start-ups to “prove and scale” technologies to combat climate change. They said they hadn’t yet decided on the exact location or design of either campus but would announce more in “mid-2022”.

The announcement by the world’s largest liquefied natural gas supplier and the aerospace group – first reported by the Times of London on Saturday – came as world leaders began the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow.

The project aims to create a “substantial” investment pool to finance research and development and provide early-state venture capital investment to create and scale-up businesses. Rolls is expected to provide engineering and manufacturing support.

The partners said they hope to attract co-investors and to create investment opportunities for Qatari businesses and investors. The project aims to create some 10,000 jobs.

The non-profit Qatar Foundation will administer the project for Qatar, in a shift for the wealthy Gulf state whose major investments in the UK are managed by sovereign wealth fund the Qatar Investment Authority.

Qatar holds several high-profile investments in the UK, including the Shard skyscraper, Harrods department store and the Savoy hotel.