Nike Jumps Into Venture Capital to Fund Green Start-Ups

Nike announced this week that it’s launching a venture capital arm called the Sustainable Business & Innovation Lab to invest in start-up companies in renewable energy, efficient manufacturing and healthy lifestyles.

The world’s largest sporting goods brand made the announcement in its corporate sustainability report, which says its mission "is to enable NIKE, Inc. to thrive in a sustainable economy."

Nike wants to support green businessess but its investments will also be guided by choosing companies that offer innovative ideas for its own business growth. It also plans to finance partnerships with government and non-profits.

The company is looking for new product ideas that incorporate sustainability and ways to reduce costs for raw materials, energy and other expenses. Last year, Nike started selling soccer uniforms made from recycled polyester and is looking for other products that attract green customers.

In the past, mostly pharmaceutical and technology corporations had venture capital arms, used mostly to expand their businesses, but now that’s extending to consumer product companies. Intel, for example has invested over $9.8 billion in over 1100 companies since 1991.

Nike has long been considered one of the leaders in sustainability among corporations, and was on our SB20 List, the World’s Top Sustainable Stocks. As a founding member of Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), Nike joined a coalition of companies advocating for the passage of meaningful energy and climate change legislation. In 2009, Nike made headlines for resigning from the US Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors because of its active lobbying against climate change legislation.

Last year, Climate Counts, a nonprofit organization founded by yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm in 2007, ranked Nike first among US corporations for the fourth year in a row, for its emissions reduction policies and sustainability reporting.

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