🌳 ClimateHack Vol 25: Nature x Climate

PLUS: Finnish unicorn founders launch a €100M climate foundation

Hey There,

It's been a big week in Climate. So let's jump right in.

In today's edition:

💰 Finnish unicorn founders launch a €100M climate foundation.🍚 20 years in the making: Golden Rice cultivation makes history. 🌳 A conversation with Partech on nature x science based solutions.

p.s. if you like today's edition - share it with a friend or coworker.

Digest x Climate

📈 What’s up? The IEA’s Renewables 2022 report says that “Renewables [will] become the largest source of global electricity generation by early 2025, surpassing coal”.

📉 What’s down? Researchers at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Science have discovered that 70% of Florida's reefs are degrading and witnessing a net loss of reef habitat.

🌳 The US Environmental Protection Agency has set new biofuel volume targets for the next three years, under the Renewable Fuels Standard, marking the first time it does so without using those outlined in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

💡 Good Read: Sifted explains that deeptech and hardware climate startups could hold the key to solving the climate crisis, but they need the capital to scale.

Carbon x Climate 

💡 Gaia AI raised $3 million pre-seed funding for its technology to help foresters make data-driven decisions to optimise their bottom line, including carbon credits. Their sensor backpacks (pictured above) helps automate the manual measurements while keeping the forester in the loop of what's happening in their backyard.

🛰 MORFO, based in Paris, raised €4 million to deliver drones that augment satellite imagery for repopulating forests, to help enhance biodiversity analysis of depopulated forests.

👨‍🌾 French carbon credit financing provider Rize secured €3 million pre-seed funding to help farmers build new income streams by earning carbon credits through decarbonisation activities.

🔎 Real estate decarbonisation platform Accacia secured $2.5 million pre-seed funding. It can track carbon emissions and help companies to achieve net-zero goals, and has already been deployed to over 20 million square feet of real estate in Asia.

🌳 London-based Verna secured £860,000 pre-seed funding for its software that finds and analyses potential locations to plant trees, that helps identify the best carbon and biodiversity options for land.

♻️ Belfast’s Changeover Technologies surpassed its intended crowdfunding goal of £500,000 for its recycling technology, designed to take carbon waste material and turn it into carbon reductant pellets, which can be used in the manufacturing of steel and silicon.

🤝 Sustainability and ESG mapping platform Plan A is entering into an exclusive partnership with Visa to roll out its software to its global customer base and help get more businesses ready to decarbonise their supply chains.

🪨 California-based startup Heirloom is using heated limestone powder to capture CO2 from the atmosphere and store it underground, reducing a process that naturally takes years to just three days.

Food x Climate

🍚 Farmers in the Philippines have cultivated beta-carotene-enriched Golden Rice on a larger scale for the first time, harvesting almost 67 tons of grains from 17 fields in October.

🌴 Clean Food Group secured investment from Germany’s Doehler Ventures to scale its ​​sustainable, “bioequivalent alternative” to palm oil, designed to help reduce the detrimental environmental impact of palm-based ingredients.

🐑 Black Sheep Foods, based in San Francisco, closed a $12.3 million Series A funding round to scale its plant-based lamb and other game meats, moving to a production facility capable of making 16 million pounds of vegan meat per year.

🌾 ADM announced its new goal to engage one million acres in regenerative agriculture within the next year and reduce Scope 3 greenhouse gas emission 25% by 2035, whilst maintaining its financial growth.

🧫 Israeli food tech Novella is growing botanical ingredients in bioreactors, similar to how cultivated meat is grown, to reduce the inefficiencies of crop-based production.

🥩 Eat Just’s GOOD Meat announced that Singapore’s Huber’s Butchery will be the first butchery in the world to sell and serve cultivated meat.

Energy x Climate

📱 Berlin-based smart energy supplier Ostrom closed €9.3 million Series A funding to help consumers become more energy efficient via its smartphone app.

📊 Gorilla, based in Belgium, raised €6 million Series A funding. Its cloud software allows energy utilities to collect data from smart meters, EVs and IoT devices so they can analyse energy traffic movements and formulate new price policies.

🌡 UK solar tech firm Naked Energy is on track to secure £10 million Series B funding, including £1 million from UK social innovation board Nesta. Its panels produce heat using thermal energy from the sun to boil water to a temperature of up to 90°C, and  could be an option to decarbonise heavy heating users like industrial plants.

Materials x Climate

👟 Regenerative fashion company UNLESS Collective joined forces with plant-based material leader Natural Fiber Welding to create the world’s first regenerative sneaker, that is made with entirely natural inputs and is fully biodegradable.

🌱 US-based Stony Creek Colors raised $4.8 million Series B2 funding for its plant-based indigo denim dye, and claims to be the only industrial-scale manufacturer of 100% bio-based indigo globally.

Transport x Climate

🚛 Autonomous and electric truck company Einride raised $500 million in equity and debt financing, having already raised $150 million since its inception, to expand into new markets globally.

🔋 German battery company Customcells raised €60 million Series A funding from Porsche and climate tech investors for its high-performance lithium-ion batteries that power products like cars, medical equipment and fossil fuel development, and could power electric planes.

🚲 Onomotion, based in Berlin, secured €21 million in equity and debt financing to scale production of its cargo e-bikes with built-in cover from the elements and attachable containers.

🛻 A Toyota-led consortium has been awarded £11.3 million from the UK’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to develop a hydrogen variant of its Hilux pickup truck at its plant in Derbyshire.

🚗 Vietnamese luxury electric vehicle maker VinFast has filed for an initial public offering in the US, and will be listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker “VFS.”

Funds x Climate

🇫🇮 Finnish unicorn RELEX Solutions’ founders are launching a €100 million foundation to donate to groups fighting climate change and working to reduce inequality, one of the first examples of private European tech companies channelling profits into charitable causes.

🌎 Global venture capital group Partech secured €120 million for its latest seed fund to support startups in a number of areas, including energy, space, semiconductors, artificial intelligence, healthcare and climate-related technologies. 

🇩🇪 Cavalry Ventures has raised €100 million of a target €160 million fund, to support roughly 35 pre-seed and seed-stage companies working in a variety of sectors, including “normalisation of sustainable business practices — such as reducing emissions and restructuring supply chains”.  

🇬🇧 UK-based Jenson Funding Partners has launched a £60 million fund, Aurora I, to support pre-seed to Series A stage companies focused on net zero solutions, which it plans to deploy in mid-2023. 

🇪🇺 The European Investment Fund is investing €50 million into climate tech VC fund World Fund, which invests in startups with the potential to save at least 100M tons of CO2 equivalent per year, marking one of the largest investments EIF has made into a first-time VC fund. 

Conversation x Climate: Nature x Climate 🌳

This week I reached out Alison Imbert, Principal at Partech, a $2.5Bn VC fund, which brings together a community of over 400 Founders across Europe, America, Africa and South-East Asia.

Alison is part of the Seed team, who invest out of their freshly raised €120M fund, they've already invested into companies like Neoplants, La Vie, GOURMEY and Alison is particularly excited by solutions that sit on the intersection of nature x science. 

Biggest area(s) in climate you’d like to see more founders working on and investment going to?

💡 What: Synthetic biology and genetics applied to nature.

Nature could be the most powerful piece of technology from the smallest organism to the largest, from bacteria and mycelium to algae, plants and trees. The scope of applications is wide from carbon removal to nutrition. 

❓ Why: During the heatwave this summer, when we were all looking for shade we started to look up at the trees, not only because bringing nature into our everyday life benefits both our mental and physical wellbeing, but because trees naturally cool down our cities. 

In fact, many studies (e.g.; Urban & Climate report) found that shade from street trees reduced surface temperatures by an average of 10°C and that concrete surfaces shaded permanently by a bank of trees were cooled by up to 20°C in the summer. It also increases the humidity level by 14% on average.

Overall, one grown-up tree is equivalent to 5 air-conditioners(!), according to ADEME (Agence pour l’Environnement française).

We need to reintegrate nature in our civilisation and take inspiration from it. The metabolism of plants and trees is an incredibly powerful and complex mechanism that scientists are still investigating, from photosynthesis to enzymatic or bacterial activities. Nature can become a powerful piece of technology to help face some of the major challenges of our century: feeding a growing population while reducing our carbon emission and absorbing those from the past. 

🤷‍♂️ How: Nature-inspired technology applications can be classified into different categories, from innovative usage to the most advanced technology. Here's a few sectors we should be looking closely at, and companies already active in this space (including a few Partech have backed, marked with a "💙"):

🌱 Multi-face and multi-usage ingredients: It all started with plant-based food products who offer the full experience of eating steaks, nuggets, or bacon (La Vie 💙) but with 10x less carbon emitted and no animal suffering. Now, seaweed is progressively incorporated in our meals (Algama) as well as mushrooms (Meati, Tupu) as a new source of proteins. And both are also making their way into cosmetics and packaging (Notpla, Ecovative). 

🌊 Natural carbon capture in the ocean with seaweed as a natural carbon sink: the goal here being to select the right seaweed (one that grows fast, in various conditions, with efficient carbon capture) and provide the most efficient condition to make it grow. We can imagine millions of tons of carbon dioxide to be absorbed through these technologies (Planetary Technology, Running Tide, Brilliant Planet).

🦠 Upcycling carbon into green valuable compounds thanks to engineered carbon-feeding bacteria. Until recently bacteria - very simple micro-organisms - didn’t attract scientific attention, but now researchers are finding natural superpowers to these organisms.

After BP’s ultra-deepwater offshore platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, scientists observed massive petrol and gas leaking, but the good news was that, only 3 months after the disaster, bacteria had eaten all the methane, and transformed it into CO2 (which is far less harmful)! Now, startups are working to engineer selected bacteria to efficiently absorb carbon and reject green compounds (SecondCircle, Phase Biolabs, LanzaTech)

 👩🏻‍🔬 Enhanced plants and trees with superpowers: from plants removing Volatile Organic Compounds (Neoplants💙) or mine metal (Genomines) to fast growing and carbon-sucking trees (Living Carbon), the most advanced scientific teams are trying to “hack” natural biomechanisms (like photosynthesis) to make plants and trees much more efficient in their ability to absorb pollutants and ultimately rebalance the planet’s carbon cycle.

Of course, creating bioengineering plants and trees should be done with caution to avoid our mistakes from the past. But as the IPCC has projected that we need to reach 10 billion tons of additional carbon removal yearly by 2050, if we really want to have a chance to limit the global temperature increase to under 2C - we need to spend more time looking, building and investing at these nature x science based solutions. 

I believe that all these projects, from the ones already at industrial scale to the emerging ones still in the research labs should be explored. Looking ahead, we will indeed need a vast toolbox of viable solutions to repair the damage done to our planet and its biodiversity.

If like us, you're obsessed with building a new category leader with a positive impact on our society - please feel free to reach out at [email protected]

Memes x Climate: 

Can confirm, conversations like this have happened. 

Thanks for reading and wherever you are in the world, have a great weekend ahead.

How did you like today's email?Love it 😁 Meh 😐 Hate it 🙁

Curated by Nicola & Arman