Last week, we covered the hottest innovations in regenerative retail. This week, we’re diving into the world of regenerative Venture Capital (VC) which has an important role in finding, funding, and growing companies that create breakthrough solutions. For the last half-century, VC-funded businesses have been a source of transformative innovations, from the semiconductor to the smartphone, from gene sequencing to vaccines. It’s time we use them responsibly – for the future of the planet, and not for profit.
As is clear from the latest IPCC report (read our thoughts on it here), the world must speed up progress on tackling climate change if it is to meet the Paris Agreement goals. Beating climate change will demand a wide variety of innovations. Cue: venture capital investments that can scale up existing technologies to help reduce emissions and help platform smaller ethical businesses to make them more visible to consumers.
Finance has been increasingly concerned about climate change – it poses an enormous threat to financial stability. We have seen the rise of climate/environmental risk management, which seeks for firms to disclose the potential impacts of climate change, and to take steps to guard against it.
Finance companies, however, are still channelling massive amounts of funds toward the fossil fuel sector. In fact, as Hans Hoogervorst, the chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board himself put it: “We should not expect sustainability reporting to be very effective in inducing companies to prioritize planet over profit . . . Greenwashing is rampant.”
CSR (corporate social responsibility) has been replaced with ESG (environmental, social, and governance) numbers that include data on emissions, labour practices, diversity, board independence, and supply chain information. We’ve covered the limitations of ESGs in detail but in a nutshell: What gets measured doesn’t necessarily get managed. There are several problems with reporting that are yet to be sorted out.
What, then, is the immediate goal for Venture Capital? To accelerate the just transition and align with research, legislators and people-led movements. Bold, large-scale, people-centred movements will hold capitalists accountable. Academia will pursue discovery research. Legislators and regulators will need to move away from lobbying with fossil fuel companies. And entrepreneurs will commercialize and scale solutions to more sustainable options. Keeping this in mind, we’ve curated a list of our ten favourite impact funds…
Sustainable agriculture is one that depletes neither the people nor the land. Freshly launched in 2021, Fresh Ventures is a venture building program and startup studio based in The Netherlands. They build new companies with experienced professionals and entrepreneurs to address systemic challenges in the food system.
If you’re motivated to transform the food system and looking for ways to put your talent and time to work, consider joining the next cohort, alone or in a team, and building solutions with a systemic impact. Learn more about their previous cohort’s regenerative adventures here.
Time for the Planet is a non-profit movement we supported through our latest Conscious Festival and we are a big fan. It’s a company that creates and finances companies that fight global climate change. Their mission? To fundraise 1 billion euros to create 100 companies fighting against global warming. They’ve identified 20 areas that companies can act on to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; among them: increasing the lifespan of goods, constructing sustainable buildings, regenerating agricultural land, and more. With these 20 areas, they’re hoping to create 100 companies that can use entrepreneurship to save the planet.
They recently selected the first innovations they are financially backing up through donations they received. One of their innovations, Beyond The Sea, relies on kites to push sea cargo (which would be the 6th biggest polluter if it were a country). Time for the Planet is unique because not only are they looking for companies and innovators to come on board, they’ve come up with ways that everyday people can help too. On their website, you’ll find ways that you can help.
Climate Change mitigation is a race against time. FullCycle built an acceleration ecosystem to scale commercially ready technology solutions to the climate crisis. FullCycle invests to accelerate the deployment of technologies that address the greenhouse gases with the highest warming potential in the first 20 years of emission (GWP20). These high-impact climate pollutants (CH4, HFC, N2O, etc) make up 24% of atmospheric greenhouse gases while being responsible for close to 50% of global warming.
FullCycle developed a unique investment model, specifically designed to accelerate the deployment of climate critical technologies. These technologies must exceed their threshold for Carbon Return on Investment (CROI-20) and deliver above-market returns on a risk-adjusted basis.
This Leonardo Di Caprio-backed venture capital has big ambitions for funding retail-focused climate innovation (they’re even investing in PANGAIA). It is an early-stage venture fund supercharging consumer-powered climate innovation driven by circular and regenerative principles.
The fund’s goal is to reimagine what we buy: from what materials go into the products, to the services using those materials, to the technology that could keep those materials in circulation. They decide on what to invest in based on a project’s “circular regenerative potential” across five themes: their resource footprint, greenhouse gas emissions, material waste, toxicity and human impact. Currently, the investment strategy encompasses design (materials and packaging), use (consumer brands and products), and reuse technologies (reverse logistics and marketplaces) that generate measurable environmental impact.
By 2050, 73% of global carbon emissions will come from emerging market’s megacities. The fact is, the solutions are already here. Yet, due to lack of funding and support, they are almost never deployed. Atlas Society, based in Vancouver, Paris and Singapore, is the citizen movement that identifies, finances and deploys these innovations on a large scale. They’re doing the beautiful and critical work of backing tech entrepreneurs who are reimagining and adapting the next climate-resilient cities. They’re doing this by building businesses that are reinventing how our cities are fed, constructed and powered, for good.
Led and backed by serious Fortunes 500 and technology players, the team combines institutional strength and entrepreneurial spirit. They call this the Adaptive Economy, a mission that includes sustainable materials in fashion (contributing to 9% of CO2 in the world), the capture of CO2 in factory chimneys (6% of CO2 in the world), cement-free construction (8% of world’s CO2) and storage of renewable energy output (22% of the world’s CO2!). Join Atlas, this movement is yours.
A Paris- and New York-based early-stage investment fund, Eutopia invests in consumer startups with a purpose who are rethinking the way we eat, sleep, dress, exercise and feel (the broad categories are: Wellness & beauty, Food & beverage, Recreation, Fashion & accessories.) They empower early-stage startups to grow through investment, in-house expertise and a network of global advisors.
Eutopia incorporates environmental, social and corporate governance issues into the investment practice, has signed the UN’s PRI — the world’s leading standard for responsible investment — and is a member of the International Climate Initiative to strengthen commitment. Moreover: Eutopia has committed to donating 1% of capital gains generated by the fund to make.org other philanthropic projects. The startups that they back have a strong brand potential, a proven scalable business model and a “better for me, better for the communities, better for the planet” approach. We love to see it!
Methane, the main ingredient in natural gas, is a greenhouse gas, trapping about 80 times more heat than CO2 over a 20 year period. Inger Anderson, the UN’s Environmental Program Executive Director, recently said, “Cutting methane is the strongest lever we have to slow climate change over the next 25 years”. The good news is that methane persists for a short time in the atmosphere, so curtailing methane emissions has an immediate impact.
The best immediate way to cut methane would be to capture leakage from trillions of dollars of natural gas operations, one of the largest sources of methane pollution. Kairos Aerospace, a VC company, is solving the problem of methane leakage by pioneering an accurate aerial monitoring service that provides actionable data on methane leaks from industrial and energy infrastructure. Since it was founded in 2014, Kairos has prevented 14.4 billion cubic feet of methane emissions from being released into the atmosphere, equivalent to removing 1.6 million vehicles from the road!
Another obvious way to cut emissions is to make the zero-carbon electricity generation we already have much cheaper. Oklo, another VC company, is building a compact fast nuclear reactor to be fueled initially by existing nuclear waste, a configuration that has already been largely validated by US regulators (with final approval expected very soon). Because Oklo’s micro-reactors could cost around $10 million to build and only $3 million a year to run (compared to the tens of billions now required to construct and maintain the electric grid), they could be used in developing countries or parts of the world now unconnected to the energy grid.
Oklo will also generate energy with larger reactors and by stringing together a series of its reactors. Oklo’s reactors would raise global standards of living by providing economies with abundant clean energy, and power technologies to ameliorate climate change, from conventional indoor air conditioning to large-scale atmospheric CO2 removal.
Based in London and San Francisco, The Craftory is a global investment house that focuses exclusively on brands that positively impact society and the planet. They’re obsessed with Consumer Packaged Goods and Fast Moving Consumer Goods that raise the bar on sustainability, democratising access for all, fairer supply chains, inclusivity, or offer healthier alternatives than the status quo. Categories The Craftory loves: Baby (diapers + wipes = eco disaster?); Beauty and Personal Care (radical solutions for guilt-free care); Flowers and Plants; Health and Wellness; Household and Petcare and Women’s Health.