Enter the boom in next generation climate tech.
Climate tech start-ups are a rare bright spot in today’s economy. Even after the recent collapse, The Silicon Valley bank, which worked with more than 1,550 climate tech firms, looked to threaten the industry. As no business can escape the impact of climate change, that’s also the opportunity. Investments in climate technology start-ups spiked to more than $28 billion in 2020, with over 83 climate-focused companies worth more than $1 billion. At the same time, industry layoffs and ‘the great resignation’ sees tech workers flocking to start-ups building things that matter.
This emerging scene includes technologies such as cultivated meat, carbon capture, cleaner fuels for planes, and new forms of power like green hydrogen, now being used to produce materials like cement. Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy, one of the most influential backers of climate tech, is funding across each of these advancements, hoping to reshape the future of agriculture, energy, mobility, and manufacturing.
Voyager, a venture capital firm with investments in climate tech companies, funds just some of the next innovations in mobility (Powerline’s software transforms an electric vehicle fleet into a dispatchable mobile power source), energy (ultra-efficient battery tech from Anthro and Ento Labs’ AI-assisted solutions) and carbon removal (Remora’s carbon capture device fits onto trucks).
Carbon capture has been slow to launch so far, but a wave of start-ups aim to scale its impact.
With the need to remove billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year, carbon capture has been criticised for requiring high energy to implement and reducing just a drop in the vast carbon emission ocean. But at scale, it could make a difference. And allow us to make essential products from air.
In direct air capture, Swiss start-up Climeworks has developed a technology that can filter CO2 and turn it into fertiliser or renewable fuels. Then there’s post-combustion capture, with start-ups like Canada’s CarbonCure Technologies transforming industry emissions into strengthened concrete, and US’s Opus 12 into chemicals like methanol.
While in the biomimicry space, which looks to nature for inspiration, Us start-up Calera have developed CO2-capturing cement based on the way that coral reefs form. (Other novel applications of biomimicry include AquaFresco’s systems for water reuse in buildings, based on how mangrove trees filter and purify saltwater.)