Nov 30, 2020 - Technology

Nearly fifty climate tech startups announce new wave of VC funds

a flower that looks like a gear being watered

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A group aimed at helping startups bring climate-friendly tech to market announced this morning its first funding recipients and partnership with venture capital firms and corporate giants including Microsoft and BP.

Why it matters: Third Derivative, an accelerator from New Energy Nexus and Rocky Mountain Institute unveiled months ago, aims to speed the timeline from lab innovation to real commercial deployment — and avoid problems that thwart many researchers, especially in hardware.

Driving the news: Third Derivative divulged a whole bunch of specifics, including news of...

1. Funding commitments from a global network of VC firms, such as U.S.-based Imperative Ventures, China's Tsing Capital, and Factor[e] Ventures, which focuses on Africa and India.

2. A suite of big corporate partners including Microsoft, BP, Wells Fargo, power giant Engie, FedEx, Shell, and AT&T.

3. Nearly 50 startups spanning about a dozen nations and four continents that receiving funding have been unveiled, such as...

  • Lithium company Summit Nanotech.
  • Gricd, which focuses on cold-chain logistics.
  • Cooling company M2 Thermal Solutions.
  • Iris Light Technologies, which has tech for creating efficient data centers.
  • Sustainable packaging company LimeLoop.
  • Power electronics company Switched Source.

Zoom in: The goal is to shepherd startups across the various "valleys of death" — meaning the perilous terrain between startup formation and product development or between tech validation and commercial scale.

  • "The traditional Silicon Valley VC model is not well suited towards hard climate tech. The capex is too high, the development and sales cycles too long, and the markets too complicated," Cyril Yee, co-founder and head of research and investments, said in a press release.

How it works: They aim to be a "global, vertically integrated engine for climate innovation."

  • The Third Derivative structure provides startups with access to tech and policy experts, VC money, and corporate giants interested in using the startups' tech, helping them build it, or even buying the companies outright.
  • They're especially interested in startups creating technologies for sectors where it's difficult to cut emissions, such as steel production and other heavy industry, cooling and more.

The bottom line: Massively cutting emissions in coming decades will require new and evolving technologies for power, fuels, buildings, agriculture and more — even as much wider deployment of existing solutions is vital.

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