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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The VC firm Brown Venture Group has agreed to invest seed funding in Ecolution kWh, a startup looking to commercialize tech that stores and dispatches kinetic energy from vehicle motion, the companies said Wednesday.

Driving the news: The amount of Brown Venture Group's financing was not disclosed, but the firm will be the lead investor in a seed round that's targeting at least $3 million, according to Ecolution.

How it works: Ecolution says it can help reduce emissions in a couple ways: ending the need for diesel-fueled refrigeration on trucks and trains, and cutting hauling weight, which burns less fuel.

The energy storage system creates a "rolling micro-grid" that can dispatch power for mobile or stationary uses, the company said.

Why it matters: Transportation is the nation's biggest source of carbon emissions.

It's also the first investment from Brown Venture Group, which formed in 2018 to fund startups led by Black, Latino and Native American executives.

  • "This is an exciting way for Brown Venture Group to launch our fund with transformational technology that will benefit our environment by significantly reducing carbon emissions," said Brown Venture Group CEO Paul Campbell.
  • Ecolution was "founded by Latin American technology entrepreneurs," the funding announcement states.

The big picture: There's a lack of Black and Latino people both in startups and the VC world.

  • Axios' Dan Primack reported earlier this year that Black men are woefully underrepresented within VC firms at just 2%. Black women don't even rank a percentage point.
  • And only 1% of VC-backed founders between 2013 and 2018 were Black people.

What's next: Ecolution, which says it's focusing on cutting CO2 from food and medicine distribution, tells Axios it is having conversations with other potential funders.

  • The company also says it's in discussions with electric truck companies to partner with in the U.S., Japan, China and Germany.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note that the amount of seed funding Brown Venture Group will provide to Ecolution has not been disclosed.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment

GM plans to end sales of gasoline powered cars by 2035

GM CEO Mary Barra at the GM Orion Assembly Plant plant for electric and self-driving vehicles in Michigan. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

General Motors is setting a worldwide target to end sales of gasoline and diesel powered cars, pickups and SUVs by 2035, the automaker said Thursday.

Why it matters: GM's plan marks one of the auto industry's most aggressive steps to transform their portfolio to electric models that currently represent a tiny fraction of overall sales.

Stacey Abrams launches second campaign for Georgia governor

Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

Stacey Abrams, voting rights activist and former 2018 candidate for Georgia governor, is running for the position again in 2022. Abrams would be the first Black female governor in the country.

Why it matters: Abrams caught national attention in 2018 by narrowly losing an election to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a state held firmly by the GOP for nearly two decades.

First known U.S. case of Omicron variant identified in California

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during the daily briefing at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The first known U.S. case of the Omicron variant was detected in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: The confirmed case was detected in a traveler returning from South Africa who was fully vaccinated and has mild symptoms, according to the CDC.