23 January 2022 |

DEAL DEEP DIVE 🤿

By Nick Van Osdol

DEAL DEEP DIVE 🤿

For an upfront primer on mycelium as a climate technology? Explore ours here.

Today we’ll take a look at a deal that crossed our radar last week. Specifically? Mycoworks $125M Series C, led by Prime Movers Lab, which has a portfolio of countless breakthrough (and some moonshot) technologies ranging from nuclear fusion to robotics and space travel.

Mycoworks makes materials out of mycelium. What’s mycelium? It’s a living organism, a network of fungal threads 🍄. These networks support plants & trees worldwide with nutrients & defend them from disease. 

Compared to other technologies in Prime Movers Lab portfolio, mycelium may seem a bit… humble at a glance. What’s exciting about mycelium? 

For one, it can be used to ‘grow’ materials. Most materials around us are created by melting or breaking down bigger resources. Take a steel beam for instance. Creating it is a ‘top-down’ process. You start with resource extraction, and end up with smaller components that are combined to form larger structures again. Same goes for smaller scale materials, e.g. leather 🐄. 

How would one flip this process on its head? Perhaps your mind leaps to 3D-printing, i.e. additive manufacturing, another en vogue trend and tech that’s a more ‘bottom-up’ approach.

That’s where mycelium shows real promise. Growing organisms like mycelium and ‘teaching’ them to retain certain characteristics and shapes can work quite well. That’s what Mycoworks does. Their products include leather-alternatives, already used by luxury goods brands like Hermes, produced via a proprietary mycelium growing technology. 

The name of the game for Mycoworks now (and for many other mycelium material businesses) is achieving the scale needed to have impact in the massive materials industry. To this end, the raise will help Mycoworks build their first ‘fully-scalable’ plant in California. The main challenges for other mycelium materials companies all really come back to scaling, too. How things go for Mycoworks should act as a pretty solid gauge for the rest of the space.

For now, investor appetite for mycelium businesses is growing like, well… mycelium! Beyond Mycoworks’ raise, here are other notable and recent rounds in the space:

DEAL HEAT 🔥

Here are the rounds, deals, and new funds that caught our eyes this week 🙇. 

  1. ☀️ 8minute Solar Energy raised $400M from EIG to expand its clean energy asset portfolio; the company is already the largest independent solar developer in the U.S. Read more here.
  2. 🔋 Factorial Energy raised $200M in Series D funding for its solid-state battery technologies. Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis led. Read more here.
  3. 🛴 Ather Energy raised $57M from Hero Motocorp for its electric scooter business. Read more here.
  4. 🚆 Parallel System raised $50M in Series A funding to make self-powered electric freight train cars. Side note, it’d be funny to see electric train cars carrying coal across the U.S. (coal comprises ~25% of all railway freight in the U.S.). Anthos Capital led the round. Read more here.
  5. ☀️ Colossus raised $36M in Series A funding for its B2B solar CRM product. BuildGroup led the round. Read more here.
  6. 🧊 Exergyn raised $35M in Series A funding to replace refrigerants with solid materials. While refrigerants have improved since they burned holes in the ozone, they can still be bad for the environment and atmosphere when leaked. Mercuria and Lacerta Partners led the round. Read more here.
  7. ✈️ Ineratec raised $22.6M in Series A funding to scale its synthetic fuel production business, providing industries like air travel and shipping with more sustainable inputs. Read more here.
  8. 🍌 Calii raised $22.5M in Series A funding to streamline grocery delivery and reduce food waste (for environmental gain). Dalus Capital and JAM Fund led the round. Read more here.
  9. 🔋 Nawa Technologies raised $20.8M in Series C funding for their ‘Ultra Fast Carbon Battery’ with applications in energy storage, EV charging, etc. Kouros led the round. Read more here.
  10. 🌿 AlgaeCytes raised $18M in funding from IBG and the German government to build one of the biggest bioreactors in Europe and produce Omega 3s. Read more here.
  11. ⚛️ Ionomr raised $15M in Series A funding for its ion-exchange membrane technology, which is key to advancing hydrogen based solutions (e.g. in hydrogen fuel cells). Shell Ventures and Finindus led the round. Read more here.
  12. 🌿 Iwi Life raised $8M in growth equity from GP Capital Partners for its plant based omega3 production business. Read more here.
  13. 🧑‍🌾 Farmraise raised $7.2M in seed funding to help U.S. farmers operate more efficiently and sustainably. Susa Ventures led the round. Read more here.
  14. 🏎️ ChargeX raised $5M in Series A funding for their EV charging technology. Read more here (in German).
  15. 🌱 Aigen raised $4M in seed funding for its solar-powered, regenerative ag and soil focused robotics platform. NEA led the round. Read more here
  16. 🏍️ SelexMotors raised $2.1M in seed funding to make electric motorcycles. Touchstone Partners led the round. Read more here
  17. ⚡ Inergio raised $1.37M in pre-seed funding for its fuel cell power electric generators. Privilège Ventures led the round. Read more here.
  18. 💰 EIG launched a “Deep Decarbonization Frontier Fund” to invest in climate technology. The firm has raised $200M to-date and aims to go as high as much as $350M. Read more here.

ELSEWHERE IN CLIMATE TECH

  • 💸 Fund flows: Breakthrough Energy, Bill Gates’ climate impact focused fund, put out a new RFP last week for European companies and technologies spearheading decarbonization.
  • Decarbonization debate: There’s never ending discussion of what climate tech is actually most impactful (as there should be!). The latest area of focus? Waste conversion and biogas… not all it’s cracked up to be 🐄 ? 
  • 🚚 EV Hunger: Even with more investment piling into EVs than any other climate tech sector… There’s concern that the voracious appetite of companies like Amazon won’t be met . 
  • Impetus to decarbonize: while not receiving a ton of media attention, twin oil spins in South America are causing massive ecological damage in Peru and elsewhere 😔.
  • Talking transition: powering down thermal power plants is a win, but the work doesn’t stop there. Transitioning employees and entire economies is a critical component of decarbonization too. This is far from a seamless process at the local level, and is an area of increasing discussion at the international level, too.

MORE COOL STUFF 

🐕 Carbon pawprint: There are emissions embedded in almost everything we buy. Your dog’s food is no exception (lots of meat!). Enter ChippinPet, a woman-owned, sustainable pet nutrition company. They make dog food that’s healthy for your dog and the planet. Check them out here!*

🎶 What I’m listening to: Bonobos’ new album! Really good music for creative work right here. 

💪 Small changes, big impact: Whether it’s sustainability or skincare, small habits have a big impact. This year I told myself I’d actually put some SPF on my face everyday. Ursa Major’s Daily Defense does the trick.