Updated Feb 16, 2024 - Energy & Environment

Exclusive: New early-stage climate tech fund of funds closes $152 million

Illustration of a landscape made from money, with a one hundred dollar bill as the grass, a stack of pennies and cluster of dimes as a tree, and a quarter for the sun.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

WovenEarth Ventures has closed its first fund at $152 million, the firm tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: The growing climate tech sector is seeing burgeoning interest, and it's creating an opportunity for funds-of-funds like WovenEarth to tap into a rich vein of institutional investors.

  • "The fundamental thesis of WovenEarth Ventures, is that we're building a bridge, that's a risk-adjusted product, that in one investment, you get exposure to three or 400 companies, instead of 20 to 30," company founder Jane Woodward tells Axios.

Zoom in: As a fund-of-funds, the company provides a way for investors to access multiple early-stage climate tech venture capitalists.

  • WovenEarth is a women-led company headed by Woodward, a longtime energy investor and adjunct faculty member at Stanford University.
  • Woodward tells Axios that many investors are seeking a relatively low-risk entry point into climate tech, a sector that requires specialized knowledge in order to scrutinize and determine where funding should go.
  • She is joined by co-founder Mauricia Geissler, the former chief investment officer of Amherst College; and Denise Miller, an energy transition strategist.
  • The company also has four other team members as well as additional expert advisors.

Of note: Investors on the institutional side include the endowments of Boston University and Pennsylvania State, along with foundations.

  • The WovenEarth Fund has invested in 13 U.S.-based early-stage climate tech venture fund managers that are generalists and focus on decarbonization.
  • Other funds WovenEarth is involved with have a domain-specific focus, including water, agriculture, digital solutions and wildfire.
  • Woodward cited Blue Bear Capital as one promising fund involved in digital decarbonization solutions.
  • In addition, the firm says it will make co-investments opportunistically with its underlying fund managers.

What they're saying: "No one else is doing what we're doing," Woodward told Axios. "Early stage [fund] managers are running the greenhouses that are sprouting companies."

  • She noted the importance of curating investors' exposure to funds with exposure to early stage companies, given that many investors lack the technical expertise needed to discern which technologies or companies offer the best investment opportunities and most viable ideas.
  • Also, education is part of WovenEarth's mission, Woodward said, with workshops featuring venture managers and experts from portfolio companies.

Yes, but: The fund-of-funds approach is not all that common in the climate tech investing scene, where big venture firms like Lowercarbon Capital, Breakthrough Energy Ventures and others put money directly into companies.

Kia Kokalitcheva contributed to this story.

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