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A postcard from Plug and Play's energy pitches

Miranda Wang, the co-founder and CEO of plastics recycling company Novoloop, pitches at Plug and Play's selection day.

Miranda Wang, co-founder and CEO of plastics recycling company Novoloop, pitches at Plug and Play's "Selection Day." Photo: Katie Fehrenbacher/Axios

A group of entrepreneurs pitched their energy startup ideas, like turning sewage into jet fuel and producing green ammonia, to a room filled with corporate investors at the Plug and Play Tech Center Tuesday in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Why it matters: Both corporate M&A and corporate VC have become a crucial form of capital for climate tech companies in the face of closed public markets.

Zoom in: Plug and Play, an accelerator in Silicon Valley, held one of its "selection days," where it unveils the startups that will enter a monthslong program of mentorship and connections with corporate partners.

  • On the energy-focused stage, a dozen startups pitched potential investors on sectors like plastic recycling, long duration energy storage and geothermal stimulation.
  • Karen Baert, co-founder and CEO of next-gen ammonia startup Ammobia, kicked off her pitch by describing ammonia as "the beer of decarbonization: responsible for many of the world's problems and solutions." The company recently closed a $5 million seed round and lists investors Collab Fund, Starlight Ventures and Chevron.
  • James Hygate, founder and CEO of U.K.-based Firefly Green Fuels, talked about his startup's process of turning sewage into sustainable aviation fuel. The company just started raising a $40 million Series B round to build its first commercial plant.
  • Other startups in Plug and Play's new energy cohort include food waste to energy startup Chomp Energy, long duration energy storage startup HyWatts and chemical recycling company Novoloop.

Catch up quick: Plug and Play, founded in 2006, has built a business off of connecting big companies — many of them from Asia and Europe — to upcoming hot startups, a good portion of them in Silicon Valley.

  • The new energy cohort will be the 14th group to go through the accelerator over the last seven years.
  • Plug and Play's corporate partners focused on energy startups include Austrian oil and gas company OMV, energy firm Dominion Energy, and Japanese groups Osaka Gas and Furukawa Electric, among others.

Big picture: The chilly public markets are emphasizing the importance of both corporate venture capital and corporate M&A.

  • Corporate M&A "is the most significant exit strategy for a lot of early-stage climate companies," said Helen Wang, an associate with Yamaha Motors Ventures, during a panel at the event.

What's next: The startups will go through the 3-month Plug and Play program, and in the summer they'll get a chance to pitch again before a much bigger audience.

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