🍄 ClimateHack Vol 29: Fermentation & Feedstock

PLUS: Climate funding now makes up 30% of all venture capital.

Hey There,

It's a long read today, so let's jump right in:

In today's edition:

🔮 20+ FoodTech VC's predict what's will be big in 2023.🪨 Climeworks makes a major breakthrough in carbon storage.🍄 A conversation with Chicago-based Hyfe on wastewater and feedstock. 

Digest x Climate

📈 What’s up? Climate Tech funding now makes up 30% of all venture capital, per data from PwC and Pitchbook. According to ClimateTech VC, investors are sitting on nearly $300b of dry powder fuelled by a noticeable uptick in LP interest in this sector, and an ever crowding market of Climate VC's happy to deploy it. 

🌡 It’s getting hot in here. Last year was the fifth warmest year in recorded history — average global temperatures came in at 1.2C above pre-industrial levels. Notably, the top 5 warmest years have all occurred within the past decade. 

🙌  In better news, a study from the United Nations shows that the ozone layer is slowly healing, thanks to efforts to repair it through phasing out ozone-eating chemicals, and could recover to 1980s levels across most of the globe by the 2040s.

🤖 Good Read: AI is transforming the digital world. In this essay, Elliot Hershberg (investor/writer at Not Boring) examines why we've seen such a divergence between digital and physical AI progress—and why biology has been such a notable exception. 

⛽️ Crystal Ball: Three academics have published a study showing that scientists at Exxon Mobil predicted global warming “with remarkable accuracy” in a series of internal reports and messages beginning in the 1970s.

💼 Climate Quitting: Move over “quiet quitting”, now the workforce is “climate quitting”, or leaving a “regular” job in favour of a more environmentally responsible one.

Carbon x Climate 

🪨 Swiss company Climeworks says it has successfully removed carbon from the air and stored it in the ground, where it will turn it into a rock in a process that has been verified by independent third party auditors, marking an industry first.

🧪 Scientists at the University of California, Riverside have found a method to convert plastic waste into a highly porous form of charcoal with a massive surface area, that captures carbon and could potentially be added to soil to improve soil water retention and aeration of farmlands.

🇪🇺 The European Commission has approved a €1.1 billion Danish scheme to support the roll-out of carbon capture and storage technologies, in line with the country’s climate targets to reduce its GHG emissions by 70% by 2030.

🔎 Redigo Carbon, based in London, secured $269,500 from Invento VC's Bridge Alfa programme to enable businesses to access sustainability tools and data through its machine-learning driven ESG monitoring platform.

Food x Climate

🥩 Berlin-based Project Eaden secured an additional €2.1 million seed funding to accelerate development of its first product, a plant-based steak made using its proprietary fibre-spinning technology. Can you guess which of the steaks pictured above is the odd one out?

💦 Richard’s Rainwater is the first US company to bottle rain, having collected four million gallons of rainwater in 2022 before purifying it and packaging it, preventing the need to add chemicals such as chlorine, fluoride or ammonia since rainwater is “100 times cleaner than the strictest bottled water standards even before it’s purified”.

🏭 New Age Eats ($32M+ raised) is walking away from their 90% built production facilityOatly announced they recently sold off much of their facilities in Utah and Texas and news broke yesterday that Remilk ($131M+ raised) has scrapped their plans to set up factory in Denmark. All this is fuelling an important discussion around outsourcing vs building in-house (more on that next week).

📙 A new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that climate impact labels are an effective way to encourage consumers to eat less red meat.

🔮 Predictions: We asked 20+ top Food and Ag VC's for the predictions for 2023, from molecular farming to the age old "food as medicine" - here's what they said. 

🍄 Good Data: Here's a look at which countries are responsible for the largest amount of mushroom production. This feels like a big opportunity. 

Energy x Climate

⚡️ Enpal, based in Berlin, raised €215 million Series D funding, less than one month after it secured €855 million in debt funding, to expand its lineup of photovoltaic systems and accelerate its smart energy platform into new markets.

🏭 Norway’s Hystar secured $26 million Series B funding, in a round co-led by AP Ventures and Mitsubishi Corporation, to rapidly scale commercial operations of its green hydrogen production plans.

☀️ OpenSolar, born in Australia and based in the US, raised $15 million in a Series B funding round led by Telstra Ventures to expand its free-of-charge solar panel design and sales software platform for solar contractors. 

🔥 French startup Qarnot raised €12.5 million to reuse fatal heat from its data centers’ servers and turn it into an asset, by deploying them as decentralised data centers that also function as heaters in buildings.

🔌 UK-based measurable.energy secured £4.5 million Series A funding to support growth of its smart power business. Its smart sockets are equipped with an enriched suite of intelligent tools designed to make energy savings more accessible.

🪟 Singapore-based YES WORLD Climate Tech Pte Ltd has launched what it says is the “world’s first energy-efficient Windows Solution” for home and commercial buildings. Its specialised glass solution includes double pane glass and sandwich glass, which has a layer of a patented material that reflects the majority of solar radiant heat.

📈 Good Data: The International Energy Agency says that the world is moving into “a new age of clean technology manufacturing”, which its analysis shows would be worth “roughly $650 billion per year by 2030”.

Construction / Materials x Climate

🚛 UK-based InfraFleet secured £10 million from Octopus Group. It aims to provide eco-friendly equipment for infrastructure projects, powered electrically as well as through hydrogen, reducing both the emissions and expense of diesel fuel-powered construction equipment.

🪵 Amsterdam-based timber platform VonWood secured investment from Keen Venture Partners, Dutch Founders Fund and Peak to make the wood trade more efficient, traceable and sustainable, planting more trees than it trades.

👀 New: PlasticFree is a cool new platform that launched to help more designers utilize plastic-free alternatives.

Funds x Climate

💰 Goldman Sachs Asset Management Fund raised $1.6 billion for its first private equity fund focused on providing “growth capital” to companies working on climate and environmental solutions.

🚛 The UK government has made £7 million in funding available to up to 36 companies developing technologies that decarbonise the freight sector.

Conversations x Climate: Fermentation Feedstock

This week I caught up with Michelle at Hyfé, the Chicago based climate startup unlocking low-cost production of sustainable essential goods by transforming food manufacturing wastewater into fermentation feedstock.

We invested in their $2M pre-seed round back in May after they impressed the judges at our 2022 Demo Day. Since then, the team has grown from 2 to 5, and announced that they scaled production of their mycelium protein to 400L pilot.

1) What were you doing before Hyfé and how did you and Andrea meet?

I had recently left ExxonMobil, where I developed expertise in wastewater treatment and was working as a startup engineer on a $250M capital project. Prior to that I ran a wastewater treatment plant at one of the oil refineries and learned all about the ridiculous amount of organic waste that is generated in wastewater treatment and thrown to the landfill.

Andrea had just wrapped up a life changing experience at LanzaTech, where she helped start up the world's first commercial scale gas fermentation plant that converts waste gas to essential chemicals.

We were both at a point in our careers where we had been in industry for years (me for 10, Andrea for 15) and we were thinking about the type of legacy we wanted to leave with the skills we had built - COVID was the perfect catalyst to make a career change. 

We met 5 minutes after I was in an earthquake in my home country of Ecuador, and I honestly think that the world was telling us that we would be a force to be reckoned with.

2) Why is this a climate solution, and if solved what impact could it have?

I want you to think of Hyfé in two ways:

1) We tackle 1.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions generated by wastewater by extracting carbons from waste streams and repurposing or sequestering those carbons into foods and materials. 

2) We are an enabling technology that helps biomanufacturing compete with destructive industrial processes. Biomanufacturing has the potential to create solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity - think deforestation, transportation, food, shelter - if rendered economically viable.

Reducing cost of production is key to making sustainable bioproducts a reality, and as feedstock accounts for 50% of the cost of fermentation, it's a massive lever to go after.

Our mission is to use our flexible fermentation platform to produce cost-competitive essential goods for multiple industries, repurposing millions of pounds of wasted nutrients and keeping tons of emissions out of the atmosphere every year.

3) What was the biggest challenge you faced at Hyfé last year?

Jokingly, our lab HVAC was out all summer and it was a horribly sweaty way to welcome our first hire who had to run autoclaves with long sleeves and pants 🌡

But in all seriousness, we moved really fast in 2022 which meant the inflection points came quicker than we were expecting. As leaders we were evolving with a moving target which is a fun, but challenging part of running an early stage climate startup.

4) What's exciting you at the start of the new year?

Right now we are focused on making a damn good protein concentrate and isolate, but I am so fired up about expanding the product portfolio into materials that sequester carbons for decades (if not centuries). Mycelium has the most fascinating material properties - our industry is just at the tip of the iceberg right now.

5) Who and how can people reach out to you? 

I’d love to connect with food manufacturers that use protein concentrates/isolates in their products and manufacturers that generate food processing wastewater.

We're also always happy to chat with investors and founders in climate who want to learn more about what we're building at Hyfé. 

Best way to reach me is to connect on linkedin!

👋 Meet IRL

📆 Connect with your local Founders and Funders network at our very first ClimateHack meetup in Zurich (3rd February) - London dates to come next week. 

📣 Speaker Recommendations: We're looking for the best Climate speakers for the next HackSummit in May. Have a recommendation? Please drop it here

Thanks for reading, and have an awesome weekend ahead 

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Curated by Nicola, Editorial by Arman