Ireland's €9.2 billion sovereign investment fund has almost doubled its total investment gains in eighteen months.

The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund - which has a mandate to invest on a commercial basis to support economic activity and jobs - generated an investment return of €450m in the first half of 2021.

It brings to €1 billion the total gains since the start of 2020.

Total investment gains since the Fund was established in early 2015, when it replaced the National Pension Reserve Fund, stood at €2.2 billion at the end of June.

ISIF's Irish portfolio added €1.4 billion of returns while its Global Portfolio generated over €800m.

The gain generated in the first six months represented a return of just over 5%.

ISIF - which is managed by the National Treasury Management Agency - completed 10 new investments in the first six months of the year, bringing total commitments in Ireland to €5.2 billion across 151 investments.

The most high profile investment in the period was in the payments company Stripe, which was founded by Irish brothers John and Patrick Collison.

The fund invested €42m in the global payments company which, alongside the investment, announced that it intended to create more than 1,000 jobs here.

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Sustainable investments

ISIF also announced its intention today to invest €1 billion in climate action projects over the next five years.

The investments are expected to include energy efficiency projects, renewable energy generation and storage as well as better use of resources to reduce Ireland's carbon emissions.

The fund said the programme would complement its existing investments, which are made in line with what it calls its 'double bottom line' mandate to invest on a commercial basis to support economic activity and employment.

"Our planned investment programme reflects the urgency of the climate challenge and the significant opportunities that exist to back Irish businesses and projects that are developing new and more sustainable ways of doing things," Nick Ashmore, Director of ISIF said.

"ISIF has a good track record built up now of helping the state to address key challenges with its unique commercial investing but also investing for economic and social impact," he added.

Mr Ashmore told Morning Ireland that he believed the investments would generate a good return for the state but that there was also a forward looking element to its investments in the area.

"ISIF is not there to get involved with the high volume activities - the proven investments - so much as to be able to look forward and start to take a bit more risk and bring emerging areas through, things like energy storage and the potential for significant offshore wind. It's about trying to crowd-in investment and open up new areas of the market."

On the fund's significant investment gains since the start of 2020, Mr Ashmore said the investment strategy had been adjusted over time but that the gain was supported by the performance of markets over that time.

"The markets have had a very strong run over the past couple of years. And we've seen really strong returns come through in our venture capital and our growth equity type investing as well as moderated returns across the lower risk parts of the portfolio."

Nick Ashmore said payments firm Stripe was a natural fit for the the fund given that it had two Irish founders.

"It's a very logical and exciting step for ISIF. It helps us build an investment, not just around the activity that Stripe will have within the Irish economy... Having their second headquarters here positions not just Stripe and Ireland, but the whole tech market in Ireland very much for the future," he explained.

ISIF is also responsible for the Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund (PSRF), a €2 billion fund that was established by the Government in May last year to support companies impacted by the pandemic through investment.

Direct and indirect investments in businesses totaled €613m across 30 businesses, platforms and projects by the end of June.

In addition, ISIF is working on a pipeline of over €920m in potential investments from the PSRF.