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50 sought-after solutions according to these 17 Climate investors attending the HackSummit

Europe’s leading gathering of Climate Tech Builders, Investors, Corporates and Limited Partners is happening in Lausanne this June 13-14th. AKA the HackSummit.

And as Momentum builds and the urgency to solve the climate crisis picks up pace we spoke to 17 impact investors who will be joining us in Lausanne to hear which technologies they’re looking to invest in next. 

If you’ve got the solution they’re looking for, get your ticket today and head on over to Lausanne to meet them IRL for what could easily be your most productive week of 2024 - while having plenty of fun along the way.

Tip: Use code MEETINVESTORS for 20% off your startup pass. Less than 150 tickets remaining.

A snapshot of what they’re looking for:

🍄 Scalable remediation
🛠️ Green metals and mining
🔥 Heating and cooling tech
🌿 NatureTech and biodiversity
⚡ Long duration energy storage
🔄 Upcycling waste side streams
🐮 Methane leakage and reduction
🌬️ Carbon capture, storage and MRV
🌱 Genome Editing and Plant Breeding

Jacob Bro at 2150

  • Balancing Energy Supply and Demand with Thermal Batteries: Heating and cooling account for roughly half of global final energy consumption, meaning thermal batteries have a key role to play in balancing energy supply and demand. We see promising applications in both industries (e.g., to displace fossil fuel generated heat in cement kilns) as well as building heating & cooling (e.g., to reduce impact of HVAC on peak loads). Importantly, these solutions also improve the economics of electrification, addressing one of the key challenges of heating electrification.

  • Powering Compute Sustainably: Powering AI requires a lot of energy. In total, data centre electricity demand amounted to ~2% of the global total in 2022 and could double by 2026, and this comes on top of the increasing power demands from electrification. We think a stack of solutions will be needed to tackle this challenge, from real time electricity carbon data and computer flexibility management to energy efficient chips and liquid cooling.

  • Unlocking the Potential of Distributed Energy Resources through Grid Visibility: Distributed energy resources – like residential batteries and heat pumps – can be aggregated to provide clean flexible power (as much as 10-20% of US 2030 peak demand could be provided by such virtual power plants). But to take advantage of this potential, we need real time visibility of the distribution grid, because shifting large loads like aggregated EV charging at scale requires knowledge of local capacity availability. 

Keely Anson at Collaborative Fund

  • Heating and Cooling: Extreme weather caused by climate change is increasing the need for new and innovative solutions to HVAC. We're interested in companies that are building products that are higher efficiency, cheaper or at cost parity to incumbent technology, and have the ability to scale manufacturing in order to meet customer demand. 

  • Sustainable Inputs: We're excited by inputs and supply chains that power consumer products. These inputs are better for the planet and don't ask consumers to sacrifice. Inputs like ingredients, materials, supply chains, energy, labor costs, and infrastructure all offer innovative opportunities to build great new products and businesses. 

  • WaterTech: Water is heavy, corrosive, costly to transport, evaporates easily, incredibly underpriced, and often not used where it is most abundant. We're interested in new and innovative companies working on better water quality and reliability, as well as tech-enabled infrastructure that reduces waste. 

Daria Saharova at World Fund

  • Biodiversity: Food production is at risk due to climate change and limited genetic variability in many of the crops we eat today. To reverse biodiversity loss, we foresee two main routes: introducing regenerative farming practices and increasing genetic diversity in our key crops. Improving biodiversity and introducing new genetic variability into crops to enhance their resilience can be achieved through several strategies such as biotechnological approaches to increase genetic diversity (non-GMO) or utilising crop wild relatives by preserving seeds and genetic material. These wild relatives often have genes for resilience to biotic and abiotic stresses that can be introduced into cultivated varieties through breeding.

  • New computing and new materials: The next decade is predicted to be the decade of quantum technology with governments and organisations investing now to prepare for the quantum future. Quantum computing could be integral to finding resolutions to climate issues. This is due to the technology’s ability to model solutions that would previously be impossible to achieve through current levels of computing power. McKinsey is forecasting that climate technologies developed using quantum computing could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by seven gigatons a year by 2035. This could include helping to decarbonise power and fuel, re-shaping industrial operations and reforming food and forestry.

  • Battery tech: With the rapid growth of electric vehicles (EVs), global sales soared by 35% to almost 14 million in 2023 and are expected to reach 17 million in 2024. To ensure the move away from fossil fuels does not entail switching dependence on other scarce mineral resources, the recycling of minerals used in electric batteries must improve. According to Fraunhofer ISI, the volume of lithium-ion batteries to be recycled in Europe will reach 2.1 million tonnes by 2040. Locally available raw materials are crucial to meet the rising demand for battery materials and ensure resilient supply chains in Europe. World Fund’s investment into cylib is pivotal for achieving this goal and reflects the significant interest from a wide stakeholder base in enabling a much-needed European battery recycling infrastructure.

  • Energy: Prioritising the expansion of renewable energy sources remains a critical and urgent endeavour to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Central to this mission is the advancement of grid stability and efficiency through the implementation of cutting-edge solutions. It is imperative to pursue the development of long-duration energy storage technologies to unlock the full potential of renewable energy and transition towards a fully electrified economy. This requires the creation of innovative energy storage solutions capable of effectively managing the inherent variability and intermittency of renewable sources. Additionally, leveraging more accurate weather forecasting holds promise for significantly enhancing grid efficiency. Furthermore, power purchase agreements (PPAs) will play a pivotal role in facilitating the transition to renewable energy for commercial and industrial sectors.

  • Freshwater: As we persist in releasing greater amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, global weather and water patterns will undergo significant shifts. Some regions will experience heightened occurrences of droughts, while others will face increased flooding. The disappearance of glaciers and snow packs in certain areas will have profound repercussions on the freshwater resources of downstream communities. Collectively, these transformations will diminish the availability of water for agriculture, energy production, urban centres, and ecosystems worldwide. Further freshwater in many countries e.g. Spain, India have reached or are close to reaching their water resource limits. Hence, there is a pressing need for innovation to optimise water usage, reduce water pollution originating from pesticides, fertilisers, industrial waste, and untreated human wastewater, and enhance the energy efficiency of water desalination processes, all without causing harm to marine ecosystems through the discharge of toxic brine.

  • Biodiversity: The future viability of capital markets hinges on biodiversity, with over half of the world's GDP stemming from industries reliant on nature. Should we persist in degrading the natural world, the global economy will suffer a fatal blow. Embracing nature-positive solutions holds the promise of unparalleled growth. For investors committed to biodiversity, there exist enduring opportunities to contribute to a more sustainable future. Accurate biodiversity measurement, combating deforestation, transitioning from plastic products, and ensuring supply chain traceability are among the myriad crucial topics profoundly impacting biodiversity.

Lena Thiede at Planet A Ventures

  • Long-Duration Energy Storage: A world with a 100% renewable grid requires a significant amount of energy to be stored as most renewable energy sources are not baseload continuous. Currently, it is 3x cheaper to use fossil-powered “peaker plants” to fill in the gaps of renewables than storing excess energy via batteries. Storage is the missing piece to integrate fluctuating renewable power in the system by balancing supply & demand. We keep our eyes open for startups that bring down storage costs.

  • Biotech: A 2020 report by McKinsey points out that as much as 60% of the physical inputs to the global economy could be produced biologically. To date, biomanufacturing  has only been economically viable for high margin products such as pharmaceuticals. Innovation that accelerates product development, reduces cost of development, and reduces unit economics by increasing productivity is super exciting. This will be key to speed up the process of producing alternative proteins, lower-carbon chemicals, biodegradable plastics, or carbon negative construction materials.

  • Methane Leakage: Methane is both a powerful greenhouse gas (accounting for 30 % of the temperature increase from preindustrial levels) and short-lived compared to CO2. Reducing its emissions would be one of the cheapest and fastest way to lower GHG emissions. Leaks are one of the main sources, both from aging natural gas infrastructure and oil and gas fields. But tracing leaks of the odorless, colorless gas has been challenging. We are looking out for AI/ML enabled innovation in the methane detection space that provides accuracy, coverage and comparability, and enables compliance with incoming regulations.

Jacqueline van den Ende at Carbon Equity

  • Grid Tech: Investments in the grid have stagnated to the point that they are creating delays in renewable power installations and electrification of homes and industry.* Next to the required hardware upgrades, technology can help balance and optimise the grid. Think data, analytics, and digital processes that allow for the pricing, management, and operation of the grid. Think demand-side response measures, and even live monitoring of power lines to ensure they run at max capacity.

  • Precision Fermentation: Despite plant-based options reaching price parity in Dutch supermarkets, their adoption has plateaued.** The least expensive plant-based options often lack the nutritional and taste profile of their animal-based counterparts, while those that do match are typically more expensive. Scaling up novel production methods like precision fermentation could address these issues by cost-effectively enhancing the nutritional value and flavor of plant-based proteins. 

  • Electrification of Industrial Heat: Next to heat pumps scaling rapidly in homes, we're seeing remarkable improvements of large-scale heat pumps and electrothermal energy storage (ETES), making them increasingly suitable and attractive for industry. As power has become so much cheaper, using electricity rather than fossil fuels in industry is becoming increasingly attractive. And the technology is ready to take on the challenge.

  • Decarbonised Industrial Heat: Industrial heat accounts for approximately 20% of global carbon emissions. Adopting decarbonised industrial heat solutions could slash emissions by up to 75%, a monumental stride towards climate goals. Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) offer a promising solution, reducing carbon emissions by up to 75%. Additionally, implementing solutions for industrial heat storage can further mitigate CO2 emissions.

  • WaterTech: With global water demand projected to outpace supply by 40% in the next decade, and nearly 2 billion people facing water scarcity by 2025, the need for innovative solutions in Water Tech is more pressing than ever. Investments in Water Tech are currently insufficient to address these pressing challenges comprehensively. Emerging solutions are essential to monitor, predict, and manage water resource utilization effectively, especially in regions vulnerable to drought or pollution. Furthermore, advanced wastewater treatment technologies are crucial for combating pollution and facilitating water recycling and reuse. Anticipating the future, we expect the emergence of IoT-based solutions and data analytics to optimise water usage across agriculture, industry, and urban areas, ultimately minimising losses and waste.

  • Decarbonisation of the Maritime Sector: Vessels over 5,000 tonnes comprise 55% of Europe's maritime fleet and are responsible for a disproportionate 90% of the sector's CO2 emissions. To combat this, there's a growing focus on developing and scaling up greener propulsion solutions, such as biofuels, e-fuels, hydrogen, wind, and micronuclear systems. Regulatory initiatives like FuelEU Maritime are also providing incentives to foster a more sustainable maritime sector.

Pasinee Tangsuriyapaisan at Blackwood Ventures

  • Leveraging E-Waste: The demand for metals is projected to increase 6x in the renewable energy era, making it unsustainable to rely solely on mining. E-waste recovery, recycling, and transformation in a non-toxic and low-energy manner are crucial for extracting value and reintegrating these materials into value chains.

  • Carbon Removal: Emission reduction alone is insufficient at this stage. There is a pressing need to support technologies and financial incentives for enhanced carbon capture and removal activities. Ensuring transparency and traceability of nature-based carbon removal projects and credits can foster local cooperation and potentially increase credit prices, thereby attracting more participants to this sector.

  • Valuing Nature and Climate Impact Financially: Nature has often been taken for granted due to its perceived abundance, which is no longer the case. Companies frequently aim to maximize shareholder returns, sometimes at the expense of natural resources. Technology that aligns the value of nature with shareholder value by incorporating the cost of nature in the company's valuation is one possibility. 

Erik Byrenius at Mudcake

  • Climate Adaptation for Extreme Weather: We’re interested in technologies that help agriculture adapt to extreme weather, such as precision agriculture tools, advanced irrigation technologies, more resilient crops, and wastewater treatment innovations that also produce new food products from circular waste streams.

  • Methane Emission Reduction in Rice Cultivation: We’re looking for innovations aimed at reducing methane emissions in rice farming, including sustainable farming practices, novel agricultural inputs that prevent methanogenesis, and the development of resilient crop varieties.

  • Food as Medicine: We’re excited about startups focusing on precision and targeted nutrition to prevent diseases, enhance life quality, and ensure healthy aging and child growth through personalised dietary solutions and advanced biomedical insights.

Abhi Desai at Desai Ventures

  • Point Source CO2 Capture with Mineralization: There are a lot of companies looking at point source carbon capture but with CO2 as the output, which still needs pressurization, transport and permanent storage. This either adds a very significant cost in transport infrastructure or needs co-location of the CO2 source and storage. Capture technologies that use the CO2 to upgrade a mineral feedstock to form a chemically stable substance are an interesting category. They have other challenges of feedstock supply and valorization of the product but may be more scalable than conventional carbon capture technologies.

  • Valorization of Agricultural Waste: The biofuels industry has made very good use of biomass with high sugar content like sugarcane and corn, as well as of waste oils. However, we still waste or don't effectively use lignocellulosic biomass, which makes up much of our agricultural waste. While we have methods of breaking down such waste such as steam explosion or using certain fungi, these methods so far haven't shown to be cost effective and scalable. As other sources of biomass are either in high demand and not waste anymore, or are not a sustainable source, we need scalable technologies that can use agricultural and other fibrous biomass to replace some of the carbon we get from fossil fuels.

  • Mining Technologies: Besides reducing direct emissions from mining, we need new technologies to scale the extraction of resources that can allow decarbonization to scale. From extraction of lithium from salt brines to scale battery production to heap leaching copper to continue building offshore wind farms, new mining technologies play a critical role in the energy transition. 

Abby Stern at Holocene

  • Platforms Facilitating Energy Trading across National Grid Networks: This includes optimisation modelling, digitising PPAs, supply and demand matching and allocation, billing and reconciliation. 

  • NatureTech Solutions: Such as assisting carbon and biodiversity projects to identify, evaluate and monitor natural resources. This includes eDNA, bio-acoustics, and proprietary models built on satellite images.

  • Local Carbon / REC Registries and Marketplaces: To solve credit supply issues for companies looking to offset carbon taxes or energy footprint. 

Thong Le Hoang at Tomorrow VC

  • Geologic Hydrogen: Hydrogen is a crucial component in the transition to a net-zero economy, especially for hard-to-abate sectors such as heavy industry and transportation. Traditionally, hydrogen is produced from natural gas (grey hydrogen) or through the electrolysis of water (green hydrogen). However, these methods either contribute to carbon emissions or face challenges related to high energy consumption and costs. Geologic hydrogen, which involves extracting naturally occurring hydrogen from underground formations, presents a potentially groundbreaking alternative. Although there is still uncertainty regarding the extent of natural hydrogen reservoirs, recent discoveries suggest an intriguing opportunity for entrepreneurs to build innovative solutions for discovering, extracting, and processing geologic hydrogen.

  • Sustainable Mining and Raw Materials: The mining industry has long been linked to considerable environmental impacts, such as land degradation, water pollution, and high carbon emissions. While our industries might be able to move away from fossil fuels, green technologies still rely on critical raw materials that are extracted through mining. Therefore, sustainable mining, which strives to lessen the negative impacts of mining operations and increase supply chain resilience, is a highly relevant and exciting field. Disruptive technologies, such as direct lithium extraction, have the potential to significantly enhance resource extraction efficiency, cut waste, and decrease water/energy usage.

  • Recycling of (Unsorted) Post-Consumer Waste: Our current recycling systems are ill-equipped to handle complex waste streams, such as textiles and packaging, which often end up in our oceans or landfills. These waste streams not only contribute to habitat destruction and microplastic pollution but also lead to an immense carbon footprint of our end products and can release toxic chemicals into the environment. Emerging chemical and enzymatic recycling technologies are opening up new pathways to selectively break down these unsorted waste streams into their original monomers or transform them into valuable resources, enabling a truly circular economy at scale.

Antony Yousefian at The First Thirty

  • Measurement in Nutritional Quality and Density of Plants and Food: Unlocking food as healthcare theme, enabling us to procurement to source nutrient dense supply. 

  • Epigenomic Tech: Companies helping to understand of impact of environment on gene expression in living things, from plants, animals to humans. 

  • Space Sensing Technologies (Earth Observation): Measurement and prediction on nature change in state. 

Myke Näf  at Übermorgen Ventures

  • Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture: Possibly considerable opportunities remain in these fields with regard to all climate-relevant aspects: prevention, adaptation, and resilience.

  • High-quality, Scalable CDR: Both nature-based and engineered solutions, underpinned by robust MRV methodologies, will be essential in all scenarios. Their urgency intensifies as we continue to fall behind our climate targets.

  • Anything on the Infrastructure / Enabling Layer in Energy, industrial processes and related fields. I.e., anything that forms a building block in developing a future software or software-hardware stack to run companies.

Mridul Pareek at European Circular Bioeconomy Fund

  • Food Ingredients to Uplift the Sensory Experience:  Improving taste is one of the key levers for the category expansion of plant-based foods. Taste, along with Flavors that provide the same intensity but go beyond traditional options, offer clean labelling opportunities, and a positive lifecycle analysis, is particularly interesting. Fermentation is one such technology that has the potential to produce complex flavour ingredients such as slow-cooked flavours that are all-natural and priced similarly to, or even below, other natural flavourings.   

  • Genome Editing and Plant Breeding: There is only so much that can be achieved through the application of (bio)chemicals and biologicals for crop protection. Crops will ultimately need to adapt to the changing climate and pest pressure. With recent technological and regulatory developments in gene editing (e.g., new genomic technologies – NGT), there will be exciting new opportunities to develop more robust and nutritious crop varieties to feed the world. 

  • Sustainable Ingredients in Personal Care: There is increasing regulatory pressure against the use of fossil polymers within personal care products. The company that will be able to match the performance of incumbent products while being bio-based and biodegradable will be a clear winner. Additionally, consumers are increasingly looking for products that not only perform well but also align with their values of sustainability and environmental responsibility.

Ryan Grant Little, Angel Investor

  • Climatetech Cybersecurity: All that renewable energy and climatetech infrastructure out there will increasingly be targeted by crooks and unfriendly regimes, whose ransomware attacks doubled from 2022 to 2023. Battening down the hatches on this stuff will be big business year and new players will emerge focused specifically on the sector.

  • Climatetech x Defense: As we continue into a period of sustained global war and possibly even leading to World War III, armies are seeking to increase transportation range and reduce supply chain disruption on the battlefield. We’re entering the “dual use” age, where—like it or not—much of climatetech and defense will merge. Think: drones, electrification, energy storage.

  • Remediation: Some very cool stuff happening in everything from air, water, and soil purification through to toxic spill cleanup using natural materials, and especially fungi. Sustainably and cost-effectively remediating brownfields and the huge amount of territory that’s currently affected by war will be big business.

Lara Nuchowicz, Investor

  • Green Rice Production: Rice farming is a significant source of global methane emissions, and faces escalating costs and supply risks due to climate volatility. We're interested in startups with innovative solutions in SynBio, MRV, and cultivation improvements.

  • AI-Enhanced Energy Forecasting: Transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables introduces supply-demand challenges due to wind and solar power inconsistency. We're scouting for startups with generative or predictive AI solutions to streamline decision-making and expedite this energy shift.

  • Innovative Geothermal Technologies: Geothermal energy is a sustainable, and nearly carbon-free resource. And with the right technology, it can be harnessed everywhere. We're eager to find solutions improving the efficiency, affordability, and reach of geothermal power.

  • Sustainable Palm Oil: Alternatives Palm oil is ubiquitous but harmful to our planet, health, and ethics. With the global palm oil market projected to hit $65.5BN by 2027, we're on the hunt for startups developing affordable, convenient, and more sustainable alternatives.

  • Eco-friendly Jet Fuel: Air travel demand is set to skyrocket by 2030, making it a tough sector to reduce climate impact. We're seeking startups crafting scalable solutions for to decarbonise the aviation industry, including Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), e-fuels, and hydrogen. 

Yair Reem at Extantia Capital

  • Green Steel: With 8% of global emissions, steel is the largest industrial polluter in the world. At Extantia, we are actively seeking solutions beyond the established decarbonization routes, such as using hydrogen as a reducing agent or point source carbon capture.

  • Machine Learning for Materials Discovery: In recent years, numerous companies have emerged using AI for accelerated materials discovery, including enzymes and catalysts. Enabled by the latest advancements in affordable robotics for high-throughput testing and computational power, this is a space we are actively monitoring at Extantia.

  • Green Ammonia: Green ammonia offers a transformative solution for decarbonizing agriculture and heavy industry, providing a sustainable alternative to traditional ammonia production methods. At Extantia, we are looking to invest in startups developing innovative green ammonia technologies, such as cost-effective electrolyzers for ammonia synthesis, advanced catalysts that improve efficiency, and scalable methods for ammonia storage and transportation.

  • Enhanced Bioenergy: Bioenergies, particularly biogas and biomethane, have often been neglected as sources of baseload renewable electricity, heavily reliant on subsidies. However, we are seeing significant advances in yield improvement and feedstocks in biomethane and biogas. At Extantia, we are actively looking to fund companies innovating in this space.

👀 Ready to meet all these investors and hundreds more? Come and join us at the HackSummit to get on their radar and kickstart the conversation IRL.