As world leaders convened in Paris this week for historic climate talks, Bill Gates unveiled a private-sector initiative to push clean-energy technology from lab to market.

The multibillion-dollar Breakthrough Energy Coalition lists two dozen members from 10 countries. But a third of that investment group hails from California, several from Silicon Valley.

In addition to the Microsoft founder, investors include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan, Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer and’s Marc Benioff. The University of California system also offered up $1 billion in endowment and pension funds for ideas to address climate change and ease away from fossil fuels.

“We are facing the rising danger of climate change, and it has become clear to me that the solution will require significant innovation,” Benioff said. “We don’t know what our energy mix will look like years from now, but we have to start inventing it today.”

For years, Gates has lobbied for more federal funding for energy research while investing his own wealth into clean-tech startups. Journalists have called this coalition his highest-profile action on the climate and energy front.

“Promising concepts and viable products are separated by a Valley of Death that neither government funding nor conventional investors can bridge completely,” Gates wrote in a white paper explaining his vision for the coalition. “A key part of the solution is to attract investors who can afford to be patient, and whose goal is as much to accelerate innovation as it is to turn a profit.”

—Jennifer Wadsworth