🏗 ClimateHack Vol 30: Building with Biology

PLUS: 50 of Europe's most influential Climate VC's

Hey There,

Welcome to the 232 new subscribers who joined this week 👋

At the beginning of the year, I mentioned that we'd be doubling down on creating valuable resources and curating insightful conversations for Climate founders and funders.

I think this week's edition delivers on that promise..

What to expect below:

👀 List of 50+ people to know at European Climate VC's. 🌳 Living Carbon raises $21M for "enhanced supertrees".🏗 A conversation with 2150 VC on building with biology.

Digest x Climate

📈 What’s up? Data from analytics company MSCI shows that offices in London with ‘green’ credentials are 26% more expensive than those without.

💰 A report from industry group the American Clean Power Association highlights that Amazon, Meta and Google are the top three corporate purchasers of wind and solar energy.

📉 What’s down? The world’s biggest renewable energy export project, Sun Cable, announced this week that it had entered voluntary administration following “the absence of alignment” with its shareholders.

💡 Good read: This article from Regeneration.VC on the role Consumer ClimateTech plays in the future of our planet is worth a read.

Carbon x Climate

🌳 Climate biotech startup Living Carbon raised $21 million Series A funding to commercialise its “photosynthesis-enhanced supertrees” that it claims can grow faster and capture more carbon.

🇳🇴 Norwegian climate tech CHOOOSE secured $15 million, in a round co-led by Ashton Kutcher’s VC firm Sound Ventures, for its software platform that allows enterprises to integrate climate action into their customer experiences, including automated CO2 emission calculations, and connected marketplaces of carbon solutions.

🪨 InPlanet, based in Germany and Brazil, secured €1.2 million from Carbon Removal Partners, Übermorgen Ventures, Trellis Road, Katapult VC, and Carbon Drawdown Initiative. It uses Enhanced Rock Weathering technology for large-scale removal of CO2 from the atmosphere and is focused on becoming the leading company of its kind in the tropics.

📊 Open Forest Protocol raised $4.1 million pre-seed funding for its open forest measurement, reporting and verification platform built on a carbon-neutral blockchain, that allows forest projects of any size, all over the world, to measure, report and verify their forestation data.

🔎 An investigation into Verra, the leading carbon standard, undertaken by The Guardian, Die Zeit and SourceMaterial, reveals that 90% of its rainforest offset credits are worthless and could make global warming worse.

Food x Climate

🍗 GOOD Meat has received regulatory approval from the Singapore Food Agency to use serum-free media for the production of its cultivated meat in the city-state, marking another historic milestone.

🧫 Multus Biotechnology, based in the UK, raised $9.5 million Series A funding, including an equity-free grant of $2.5 million from Innovate UK through the EIC Accelerator, to build a production facility for its growth formulations and ingredients for the cultivated meat industry.

🥛 Germany’s Veganz Group AG has partnered with US-based Vitiprints LLC to bring its newly-patented 2D-printed vegan milk to market. The milk is printed into quick-dissolving sheets, discs, or pads made from oat, almond, or soy, a process which Veganz says increases the shelf life of its milk to more than two years.

🇹🇼 The Taiwanese government has approved a groundbreaking climate bill requiring the promotion of low-carbon diets, and specifically references plant-based foods.

📉 Bloomberg wrote this piece on why plant-based meat is turning out to be a flop. Other industry insiders weighed in with the other side of the argument and opinions somewhere in the middle.

Energy x Climate

☀️ SunRoof, based in Sweden, secured €13.5 million to bring solar power to homeowners worldwide and build the largest, smartest network of connected, solar homes in the world with its end-to-end platform and installation tech.

🤖 Latvian startup Aerones raised €27.7 million to scale its robot-enabled wind turbine maintenance and inspection solution, designed to improve the prospects of wind power.

🔋 Calgary-based Summit Nanotech Corporation secured $50 million Series A2 funding, in a round led by Evok Innovations and BDC Capital’s Climate Tech Fund, for its patented and sustainable direct lithium extraction technology.

📉 Good Data: The cost of solar PV modules, per Watt has dropped (considerably) over the last 30 years. Also check out this beast of a wind turbine.

Construction x Climate

🏗 Sublime Systems, based in the US, secured $40 million Series A funding in a round led by Lowercarbon Capital. It will use the funds to ramp up production of its decarbonised cement, having replaced fossil-fueled kilns with an electrochemical process that makes cement at ambient temperature.

🧱 California-based Brimstone says that its Ordinary Portland Cement is physically and chemically identical to conventionally manufactured cement, but instead is made through a process that is carbon negative, which involves sourcing lime from calcium silicate rocks instead of from limestone

Funds x Climate

🇪🇺 Europe's VC sector is dense. We put together a list of 50+ people in European VC that you should know - from the associates and analysts who are championing climate tech inside of generalist funds, to the emerging impact managers who are going all in on Climate.

🇦🇺 The NSW government in Australia has launched a $40 million fund to support bioscience startups “addressing challenges in energy, health, the environment and waste”.

👏 UpLink, the open innovation platform of the World Economic Forum, in partnership with HCL Group, is providing $1.9 million to be shared between ten entrepreneurs focused on securing the world’s freshwater ecosystems.

Conversations x Climate: Building with Biology

This week I caught up with Max Blanshard, Associate at 2150, the VC fund that raised $312M back in 2021 to build and run cities greener, and emit vastly less CO2.

Max has a PhD in Molecular and Synthetic biology and his interests sit at the intersection of urban sustainability and biology, a sector I was extremely excited to learn more about.

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

Leveraging biology to build our cities more sustainably 🧪

I started my career as a scientist and then worked with numerous life sciences companies before making a shift into Climate Tech, so when I joined 2150 it was natural for me to explore the intersection of biology and sustainability. The bioeconomy provides a route to decarbonise those hard-to-abate emissions that are so prevalent in cities - with cement and steel, the bones of a city, accounting for 17% of global CO2 emissions alone.

So the question is, can we use biology to provide some or all of the building materials we need to build our cities more sustainably?

It's not all about alternative proteins…

For most of us in Climate Tech, thinking about the bioeconomy conjures images of cultured meat, precision fermented milk and mycelium for dinner, and for biomaterials we think of shoes made from spider silk and compostable water bottles. However there have been incredible strides to harness the power of biology to build our cities more sustainably, and here are two key reasons we think biomaterials for construction deserve more attention today:

  • We believe that challenges to adoption of biomaterials in construction will be lower than for food (people tend to be less fussy about what their insulation is made of than what they eat), although building codes and a famously risk-adverse industry does present some parallels

  • Biomaterials are showing potential to have innately better performance than traditional materials in terms their key purchasing criteria (e.g., strength, weight, durability), which is harder to demonstrate in food where these criteria are more subjective, such as taste or texture

But you can’t make steel and concrete with bacteria, right? Think again...

🏗 Concrete is a topic that gets everyone at 2150 very excited, and last year we invested in Biomason (pictured below) which has isolated incredible, naturally occurring strains of bacteria. With these bacteria they have designed an ingenious process to produce the world’s first biocement, which has potential to virtually eliminate the carbon footprint of this huge emitter. You can now order biocement tiles and facades produced at their commercial plant in the US, and they have announced their first JV with a cement manufacturer in Denmark to serve Europe.

Of course it's true that not everything in a city can be swapped out like-for-like with a biomaterial. One example is the steel entombed inside reinforced concrete, for which we currently have no bio-replacement. However, Basilisk Concrete impregnates concrete with a bacteria that is able to heal cracks that develop in the structure, thus reducing the amount of reinforcing steel required, and extending the lifetime of the structure.

🍄 Bioplastics, often relegated in our minds to packaging and single-use applications, will also find their place in the construction industry, to replace the gutters, windows, doors, pipes, cables, floor coverings, and insulation that we currently make from fossil-based plastics, although this is an area where we would love to see more companies and more innovation.

One of the poster children for the construction biomaterials space is Ecovative (pictured below) who have raised nearly $100m in VC funding and have developed a hemp and mycelium-based insulation product.

🪵 Resurrection of traditional biomaterials. As the 20th Century construction industry favoured cheap concrete, steel and synthetic materials, many traditional components of the bioeconomy were replaced and forgotten. Wood, bamboo, cork, hemp, rubber, straw and wool are all experiencing a renaissance due to their unique properties and their potential to reduce embodied carbon emissions.

Some interesting marketplaces, such as Cambium Carbon, have sprung up to serve the needs of companies wanting to be sure of provenance of the traditional materials they are buying. Meanwhile advances in engineered wood mean that replacing structural steels and concrete with the oldest “biomaterial” is now possible in most above-ground scenarios.

🕷 Enter the known unknowns The innovations mentioned above will be critical to decarbonising our construction industry and our cities, but a completely new frontier may be opening up in front of us. The availability of novel biomaterials like Spider's silk (Bolt Threads, AMSilk), chitosans and mycelium will give engineers and architects a whole new toolbox to play with and we expect to see remarkable innovations transforming construction in the coming years.

🧫 Bioreactor bottleneck - Something I’ve been banging the drum on for a while now, is that we still don’t have enough solutions to overcome the bioreactor bottleneck. We are not building the infrastructure we need for alternative proteins, bioplastics and biomaterials to be produced at scale. We will need all of the C(D)MOs (Planetary, Liberation Labs), all of the finance/development platforms (Synonym) and all of the smartest software to run the systems (BioRaptor, Invert Bio) if the bioeconomy is to reach its full potential.

All in all it's an interesting time to be building and investing at the intersection of biology and sustainability. We at 2150 are extremely excited about the advancements being made in this space and are actively looking for companies in and beyond the categories listed.

If that sounds like you, let's connect here

Events x Climate

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

📣 Pre-register: One of the biggest Climate events in Europe is coming up this May 11/12th. Details launch next week - in the meantime join 200+ others on the waitlist.

Random x Twitter

This is terrifyingly cool. "Wait till the end", as they say.

Thanks for reading and have an awesome weekend ahead (I'll be out trying to learn how to snowboard)

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

Curated by Nicola, Editorial by Arman