It’s been a big week for Climate Change. The UN Climate Summit saw many nations commit and re-commit to lofty ambitions for a zero-emission world, while their critics highlighted shortcomings to date and pointed holes in flawed pledges.
Meanwhile in tech, there are already growth stage companies ready to address the climate crisis. In fact, they are raising more capital than ever. In the UK alone, impactful companies have secured over £1bn in VC financing, almost one fifth of the UK's VC market.
At Future Planet, we believe that impact drives returns. Solving high-value challenges for billions of people, governments and corporations is capitalism at work. It makes sense, and the data agrees.
Since 2012, Techstars “impact tech” companies have outperformed their non-impact peers; Cambridge Associates have published data highlighting that impact investing funds of <$100MM outperform non-impact funds and as a final point, P.E. Funds investing in Renewable Energy and Health SME’s have showed returns of up to 25% in 2017.
It’s no surprise then that the number of impact investing dollars under management doubled this year; Generation launched another billion dollar impact fund, KKR a $225MM fund, Bain a $390MM Double Impact Fund and TPG is closing in on another $2Bn RISE Fund. Impossible Foods raised $300MM, EV Companies, Hozon Automobile and ENOVATE Motors $447MM and $300MM respectively and Lime $310MM to keep supplying the public with alternative electric transport. Even Softbank has begun investing in impact.
So, to welcome the UN Climate Week, we’ve listed our top 10 companies addressing the biggest contributors to Climate Change — enjoy!
Food, Fashion & Sustainable Growth
1. PragmatIC: Food waste across the supply and distribution chain costs the world over $2.6 trillion and accounts for 1.3 billion tonnes of carbon annually. This is not only the loss of almost 1/3rd of the world’s food production, but constitutes a tremendous waste of fuel, energy and growth. PragmatIC manufacture sub-cent, flexible electronics capable of enabling IoT in trillions of low-value items. PragmatIC chips would not only allow the accurate tracking and management of food in the supply chain, grossly reducing waste, but can offer efficiencies in electricity and water consumption of up to 100x and 500x compared to silicon competitors during manufacturing.
Investors: ARM, Future Planet Capital, Cambridge Innovation Capital
2. Zera Life: 3 billion Nappies are used in the UK each year alone; they are the third most common item found in landfill and a major greenhouse gas culprit. Yet, there is a surging demand for sustainable products—growing at twice the rate of any other category. Most companies have been unable to respond with their entrenched, petroleum-based supply chains. Zera is building a next-generation CPG business, offering zero-plastic, zero-chemical, biodegradable diapers and serving a $72B market.
Origin: MIT & Harvard Business School Founder
Investors: Xfund, Kapor Capital, SV Angel, Foundation Capital
3. Fairbrics: At the current rate, fashion will soon account for 26% of the world’s Carbon budget for 2C warming. It already contributed 5% of manmade emissions in 2015. Mindful of this, Fairbrics are developing the world's first scalable synthetic fibre with a net positive impact on climate change. Instead of producing polyesters from traditional fossil fuels, Fairbrics are using CO2 as a building block for synthetic fashion. Buckle-up.
Origin: Imperial College London
Investors: Entrepreneur First
4. Stable: From construction to scrapping, Electric Vehicles can produce 60-25% less carbon than traditional cars. But, infrastructure is way behind the curve in most of the world. Stable have set-out to reinvent the petrol station for a new era of transportation. Their intelligent scheduling software and robotic charging attendants allow the rapid deployment of high-throughput charging infrastructure. Partnered with Electrify America, they are enabling EV fleets to operate efficiently, effectively and sustainably.
Origin: MIT Media Lab
Investors: Trucks VC, E14 Fund
5. Optimus Ride: Stable have got the chargers, but what about the cars? Optimus Ride is one of the most advanced autonomous, electric vehicle companies in the market. Another MIT Spin-off, their EV/AV fleets offer sustainable transport solutions to airports, campuses, city zones, industrial parks and more. Having already rolled out in locations across Boston, New York and California, their technology is enabling some of the world’s first autonomous mobility networks.
Investors: Emerson Collective, FirstMark, Eight Roads Ventures
6. Novonutrients: Carbon sequestration will be essential to curb our march towards 2C of global warming. But what to do with the carbon? Novonutrients say why not turn it into fish food. Their technology captures industrial waste CO2 and through industrial biotech, turns it into protein for the $100 billion aquaculture market. A circular economy solution not only to global-warming, but over-fishing and food security. That’s a winner for us.
SDGs: 2, 9, 12, 14
Origin: UC Berkeley CTO, Founder & President
Investors: IndieBio, SOSV, US Department of Energy
7. Carbon Engineering: In the same vein as Novonutrients, Carbon Engineering are targeting the sequestration of Carbon with a view to doing something useful with it. They are pioneering two technologies; Direct Air Capture (DAC), for large scale negative emissions and AIR TO FUELS™, creating clean synthetic fuels from air, water and sustainable fuels
SDG: 13, 7
Origin: Harvard SEAS, Founders
Investors: Bill Gates, Cheveron, Murray Edwards
Renewable Energy Production & Management
8. Origami Energy: As green energy begins to enter the Grid, the problem of managing the supply and demand of power is becoming ever more eminent. Solar panels generate energy when it’s sunny, turbines when it’s windy, but we need power all the time. Origami are a provider of a technology platform for the smart management of distributed energy assets, allowing the integration and optimisation of a heterogeneous energy landscape. They get our vote as a key piece in the puzzle of the green revolution.
Origin: Cambridge University
Investors: Cambridge Innovation Capital, Aggreko, Octopus
9. Tokamak Energy: Limitless clean energy for all with de minimus radioactivity and waste by 2030? Tokamak are among several startup companies pioneering new approaches to achieving Nuclear Fusion. Having hit the same milestones as companies with 10x the funding, Tokamak’s lean method of attaining commercial fusion could fill humanities ever-growing need for energy, whilst contributing very little to carbon emissions.
SDG: SDG 7
Origin: Oxford, Harwell
10. First Light Fusion: Tokamak’s Oxford-University based Competitor, First Light Fusion, has taken a wholly new approach to the problem. Having been inspired by the Pistol Shrimp’s sonic boom-generating claw, First Light are pursuing inertial confinement fusion using shockwaves to crush gas-filled cavities. They are founded by Professor Yannis Ventikos, Head of Mechanical Engineering at UCL and alongside Tokamak are leading the race to the ultimate prize in Green Energy.
Origin: University of Oxford
Investors: Oxford Sciences Innovation, IP Group
Edward Phillips, Head of Dealflow