Bill Gates Start-Up in Talks on Small Nuclear Reactor

An energy start-up backed by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates is in discussions with Toshiba Corp. on developing a small-scale nuclear reactor that would represent a long-term bet to make nuclear power safer and cheaper.

Toshiba said it is in preliminary discussions with TerraPower, a unit of Intellectual Ventures, a patent-holding concern partially funded by Mr. Gates. Intellectual Ventures, based in Bellevue, Wash., is run by a former Microsoft Corp. executive, Nathan Myhrvold.

Toshiba spokesman Keisuke Ohmori said the two sides were talking about how they could collaborate on nuclear technology. He said the discussions were still in early stages and that nothing has been decided on investment or development.

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