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Q&A with The Engine's Katie Rae

Megan Hernbroth
Apr 8, 2022
Photo illustration of Katie Rae with abstract shapes.

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: The Engine

Today, we're talking to Katie Rae, the CEO of The Engine, an early-stage venture fund started by MIT.

Why she matters: Prior to The Engine, Rae was managing director and co-chair of tech accelerator TechStars in Boston. She also invests through pre-seed fund Project 11 Ventures and advises young companies through the Startup Institute.

  • Many of The Engine's companies have just emerged from academic or lab settings. Nearly half of them focus on climate tech, including Commonwealth Fusion Systems and Form Energy.

What was this week’s big story, in your view?

  • The UN IPCC Report, which paints a very clear picture of the incredible need to simultaneously deploy existing solutions while investing in new technologies that will get us further down the decarbonization road faster.

What do you feel is being under-covered or under-noticed?

  • Reducing carbon emissions in electricity and transportation dominate the dialogue, rightfully so. However, the importance of decarbonizing sectors beyond that has been under-covered.
  • There’s an enormous economic impact and opportunity — particularly here in the U.S. — for jobs, security and equity that will be associated with efforts in sectors like manufacturing, industrial processes and beyond.

What are you most closely following?

  • Like the rest of the world, the Russia-Ukraine conflict is something I’ve been watching with alarm. The energy circumstances are particularly important.

In three words, what one change would you make to accelerate investment in sustainable energy/climate tech?

  • Aligned capital investments.
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