Wolsey Academy's New 'Starfleet Investment Fund'
Running Tally: ARKK Innovation, Ginkgo, Rolls Royce, ChargePoint, Alphabet, Boskalis, Saab.
Wolsey Academy exists to make the world a better place and help build a brighter future for everyone. We believe that by freely sharing high quality and future focussed teaching resources to students and educators around the world we can assist this process. In addition, by charging a small premium for some of our resources we can enhance our impact. It allows to us to a) cover the costs of the site and so continue doing what we’re doing but also b) give to good causes around the world that share our aims. We are exceptionally proud to say that every penny made after our expenses goes to one of the good causes listed at www.wolseyacademy.com/mission. We are on track to donate more than $1200 this year, split across these 14 good causes. They include direct carbon capture – making the site officially carbon negative (we extract more than we produce!), youth and sports groups in the UK, space science advocacy groups, sea plastic removal, refugee support, and tree planting charities.
We also have made nearly $4000 in low-interest micro-loans via Kiva, targeting specific individuals in the Sahel region of Africa (of huge importance environmentally and geo-strategically) and more latterly Eastern Europe. In the past Wolsey also made donations to the UK's carbon offset scheme, removing 193 tonnes of carbon and planting the same number of trees in Rift Valley in Kenya. We are very proud of all these donations and loans.
At the back of our mind, when looking to build ‘a brighter future’, and in no small part because we are absolutely 100% nerds – is the vision of the future set out by Gene Roddenberry in his Star Trek series and all the spin-off series that have been built on top of it. In this vision, humanity works as one, peacefully co-existing and co-operating to overcome all challenges, building a society of equals that lives harmoniously with nature. In so doing they create such an abundance that mankind has the resources to venture out into space and spread humanity across the stars. This vision makes our spines tingle and help us get out of bed in the mornings. This is what humanity can be. It is what it should be.
So, with that in mind, we today announce the launch of a small investment fund that aims to support companies that are moving mankind in the right direction. It also offers Wolsey Academy the prospect of revenue through dividends, or potentially a small bonus if we ever choose to sell the shares. Now, choosing these shares has involved some research, but given time constraints it has not been exhaustive. We are sure that, despite our best efforts, some of these companies will have issues they need to address or things they could be doing better – every company does. There may be instances where they invest in controversial regions or are developing technologies that can have military applications as well as civilian. However, overall we believe these companies are doing good things to move humanity forward, inching us towards that Roddenberry vision.
The first 5 stocks for the investment fund, each with a 20% equal split of the initial capital are as follows:
1. ARKK Innovation. This fund boomed during the Covid period, with its founder Cathie Wood, heralded as some sort of guru and visionary. Post-Covid (if we can claim to be there) the stock has tumbled dramatically. However – the underlying vision of the fund, to invest in next-generation technologies like AI, quantum, and driverless vehicles – chimes 100% with the future that Wolsey aims to help build. They’re in.
2. Rolls Royce. Ok, potentially controversial as they are involved in the airline industry (and have military contracts), all of which pose ethical dilemmas for Wolsey. However, they are one of the leaders in building small-scale nuclear power plants. Again, some people are resolutely against this technology because of the nuclear waste created in the process. The issue of waste is real. But is not insurmountable, and it is infinitely preferable to run away climate change. Can this technology be introduced in time to help avert climate disaster? Maybe, maybe not. We don’t know. But we believe we need to try. And returning to the issue of waste – we fancifully believe that a possible future solution to these issues might provide a lucrative market for the space industry – a few million on a space launch could solve the problem in a few minutes, versus many more millions spent safely storing the waste for centuries. Who knows, we will see. But for this reason, it is in. We need that tech, and we need it to be scaled – two things Rolls Royce is working on.
3. Ginkgo. This is a fascinating company. They have acquired various technologies and methods of creating and testing new genetic variations, combined they create a platform that allows others to quickly discover which genome edits are best suited to their purpose. They essentially want to be the operating system for biology. They are working with companies seeking to make fertilisers using less energy and others seeking solutions to diseases. We believe they are a good bet for our investment because of the same process that saw gold miners in the gold rush struggle – but the services that were created around them boom – Ginkgo is in a good place to generate consistent income all the while assisting others in making ground-breaking advances in multiple fields.
4. ChargePoint. The world’s largest EV network supplier, they do not just install charge points but provide the data and services that allow EV users to find them. Switching to an EV future entails many drawbacks – mostly the mining for rare earth minerals to make the vehicles. However, almost every study has concluded that EVs can be part of the solution to our public health and climate change problems. We are proud to invest in ChargePoint and help a little with their rollout of this vital technology.
5. Alphabet. The parent company of Google, they are one of the world’s largest companies and one of the largest investors in R&D. They hoover up many of the world’s best tech graduates and have acquired some of the most cutting-edge companies, like Britain’s AI focused ‘Deep Mind’. They also own companies like The Climate Corporation, which improve farmers' yields using data and tech. They also have their incredibly exciting Google X division which aims to develop ‘Moon Shot’ technologies. We couldn’t not include them in our ‘Starfleet’ fund.
Now, there are some legitimate criticisms of this approach. In the Star Trek world, money has been abolished (at least, according to some episodes) and it would be strange to see a 24th-century stock market in one of the episodes (unless it was on Ferenginar!). However, we must deal with the world as we find it now in 2022 and look at how best to chart our progress towards that vision. The 5 companies we’ve invested in here, and the technologies they are developing, will play a pivotal role regardless of the economic or social changes we wish to see.
To reiterate – this micro ‘Starfleet Fund’ is designed to generate long-term revenue for Wolsey’s other good works while nudging the economy in the direction we wish to see it go.
We hope it helps.
Live Long and Prosper.
Addition on 15th Sep 2022: Boskalis. The 6th addition to the Star Fleet Fund* is the Dutch sea defence and land reclamation company Boskalis. They specialise in dredging (they have one of the world’s biggest dredging fleets) and a heavy lift capacity. Their projects to date include land reclamation projects in Hong Kong and Singapore as well as the impressive deepening of the Australian ports at Melbourne and Newcastle. In addition they are currently building the new Emirati port of Khalifa.
While dredging the sea bed inevitably causes significant environmental damage – and ill thought out land reclamation projects can change ecosystems and sea current patterns to dangerous effect – we still believe Boskalis, with their technology, experience and expertise are going to be vital for the long term survival of the human species as we know it. Sea levels are rising, most of humanity’s major cities are close to the shore and rivers – we are going to be spending a heck of a lot over the next two centuries holding back the sea to protect ourselves. Companies like Boskalis are going to become ever more important. This is why they belong in the Starfleet Fund.
Let’s face it, Zefram Cochrane can’t build the warp drive if the missile tube he’s working in has been flooded.
Addition on 16th Sep: Saab
Swedish technology and defence giants. Ok, so here again the Star Fleet Fund does run into a slight ethical issue. Many of the major companies involve in high-tech engineering – have a military arm. For example, we already hold positions in Rolls Royce for their micro-nuclear technology, one that has huge potential to address climate change and energy security – but exists because they know how to build nuclear submarine engines. The same is the case here, Saab makes a variety of munitions and fighter aircraft (notably the Griffin) for export. Saab’s products kill people.
However – on the other side of the account book. they hold a position in the new Swedish start-up Heart Aerospace that make electric passenger jets. They have got orders on the books from US and Canadian airlines. Saab’s experience with designing aircraft and creating the support infrastructure around them, honed by its military experiences, come in useful for furthering this beneficial and climate-saving technology. Additionally, they adopt reasonably good employment practices around the world – in the UAE they hire and train locals as engineers, in the USA they have scholarships and training programs for African Americans.
The Star Fleet Fund, therefore, isn’t pacificist – and nor should it be. The Enterprise had shields and phasers. Away teams would beam down to new planets carrying weapons. Someone somewhere builds and develops photon torpedoes. Starfleet is not a pacificist.
Of course, we need to try to be – and Star Fleet always does and would – but it still retained the right to protect itself and project force where it needed to.
So, welcome to the gang Saab, our 7th member of the Star Fleet Investment Fund. And thank you for your recent investments in electric aircraft and in addressing social inequality around the world.
Engines at impulse, engage.
New addition: 25th Sep 2022: Chegg.
These guys are one of the largest online education service providers in the USA. Their share price has fallen dramatically since the highs of Covid and instead they new represent a better buy. That scene in the first Star Trek reboot movie with Spock attending school in a sort of AR 'booth' is incredible and online and blended education is certainly a big part of bringing the future we wish to see closer to fruition. So there we go, Chegg, you're in. Welcome to the gang.
New addition: 25th Sep 2022: Games Workshop.
A much-beloved maker of science fiction and fantasy board games. They have a very active publishing army that generates increasingly sophisticated and respected fiction. Wolsey Academy has fond memories of cutting their teeth with all things fantasy with their content as a child. That their games rely on a range of skills, from numeracy and to artistic ability to negotiation and strategy means this is an excellent pastime for developing humans - and keeps the spirit of science fiction alive. We think you're brilliant and your content and philosophy will play a role. You're in the fund Games Workshop.