DEALS IN FOCUS
By Nick Van Osdol
DEALS IN FOCUS
Sometimes I feel like I write the same things every other week. Maybe I need to hone in on different deals out of the bevy to choose from any week 😂. Still, there’s two raises this week that stood out to me because of how consistent they are with what’s proving to be ‘hot’ in 2022 so far. Here they are:
NCX is an American carbon credit marketplace that focuses on forest carbon credits that stem from forest management and preservation. It’s project based, meaning it connects large buyers (e.g. corporations) with landowners who can onboard supply via NCX’s program. This week, they raised $50M in Series B funding.
I’m all for more innovation in carbon markets. And to be sure, NCX is more than that; if their model works, they’ll help drive a shift in terms of how we think about ‘natural capital’ and the value of natural assets.
Still, my big question is whether having many different marketplaces for different types of carbon products and natural assets is optimal. To get carbon to commodity market scale, shouldn’t consolidation of carbon assets in one marketplace be the goal? Perhaps there’s an element of re-bundling that can happen later with supply. But with new carbon markets raising money every week, carbon markets look like they’re getting even more fragmented; there’s umpteen different places for both demand and supply to go.
Biomason wants to grow ‘cement’ tiles with biotech and microorganisms. Last week we talked about how LEKO labs is taking aim at cement by proposing an entirely different, timber focused approach to construction. The commonality between the deals is the ~8% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions tied up in producing cement: It’s an impactful challenge area to target.
Biomason produces their materials with biotechnology, specifically by leveraging microorganisms that are responsible for creating strong materials like coral to produce ‘bio’-cement and reduce the materials’ emissions footprint in the process. The emissions reduction component comes in part from not requiring the high heats needed to make cement. Beyond the emissions reduction, because of the biotech involved in producing the materials, they lend themselves to additional engineering. For instance, Biomason works with the DoD on one material specifically optimized for VTOL takeoff surfaces.
If Biomason can scale their alternative cement materials production and the materials hold up to the test of time, the company + its impact will be massive 📈.
DEAL HEAT 🔥
Here are financing rounds and new funds that caught our eyes this week 🙇.
- ☀️ Aurora Solar raised $200M in Series D funding to scale its solar design software. Aurora’s software helps solar providers automate workflows and scale their own businesses. 7.5 million solar projects already leverage their platform. Coatue and Energize Ventures led the round. Read more here. (U.S. / Software)
- ☀️ DSD Renewables raised $200M in a preferred equity investment from Ares Management to fund future project growth. The solar developer, operator, and owner spun out of GE in 2019. Read more here. (U.S. / Hardware)
- 🚁 Volocopter raised $170M in Series E funding for to develop its eVTOLs. WP Investment led the round. Read more here. (U.S. / Hardware)
- 🏢 GridPoint raised $75M in a Private equity round for its combined business that features SaaS for smart and sustainable building management as well as on-site hardware. Goldman Sachs’ Sustainable Investing Group led the round. Read more here. (U.S. / Software & Hardware)
- 🤖 Gecko Robotics raised $73M in Series C funding for its signature wall-climbing robots and industrial asset management software. The robots can discover vulnerabilities and problems in critical infrastructure. XN led the round. Read more here. (U.S. / Software & Hardware)
- 🏢 Biomason raised $65M in Series C funding to ‘grow’ cement tiles with microorganisms. Cement is highly emissions intensive; finding new ways to produce it is a major opportunity to decarbonize. 2150 led the round. Read more here. (U.S. / Hardware)
- 🔋 Our Next Energy raised an additional $65M in Series A funding to develop its long-range battery, ‘Gemini’. The Gemini battery uses two different types of battery cells focused on enabling longer range. BMW i Ventures led the round. Read more here. (U.S. / Hardware)
- 🌲 NCX raised $50M in Series B funding to expand its forest carbon marketplace. NCX connects buyers of carbon offsets with landowners who grow trees on their property. The company then uses satellites to measure forest acreage annually. Energize Ventures led the round. Read more here. (U.S. / Software)
- 🧀 Better Dairy raised $22M in Series A funding to develop animal-free cheeses. RedAlpine and Vorwerk Ventures co-led. Read more here. (U.K. / Consumer Goods)
- 💎 Aether Diamonds raised $18M in Series A funding for its lab-grown diamonds (LGD) business. Aether pulls CO2 out of the atmosphere to create their LGDs. Helena led the round. Read more here. (U.S. / Consumer Goods)
- ☀️ Erthos raised $17M in Series B funding to develop its Earth Mount Solar PV system architecture, which is a new way to build solar power plants by eliminating structural steel and installing solar modules directly on the ground. This can reduce construction time, cost, and land use. Capricorn Investment Group led the round. Read more here. (Australia / Hardware)
- ⛏️ Summit Nanotech raised $14M in Series A funding for its denaLi™ technology which aims to make lithium mining more efficient and sustainable. denaLi™ Xora Innovation and Capricorn’s Technology Impact Fund led the round. Read more here. (Canada / Hardware)
- 🔋 Coreshell Technologies raised $12M in Series A funding to commercialize its battery coating technology, which increases the capacity and range of lithium ion batteries. Trousdale Ventures, Industry Ventures, and Helios Capital led the round. Read more here. (U.S. / Hardware)
- 💦 H2U Technologies raised $11M in Series A funding to advance the development of its non-precious metal-based electrolysis technology for hydrogen production. Jericho Energy Ventures, Freeflow Ventures, VoLo Earth Ventures, and Hess Corporation led the round. Read more here. (U.S. / Hardware)
- ♻️ Romco raised $6.2M in Series A funding for its metals recycling business. Romco produces recycled aluminum alloys, which are used in all sorts of products including food and beverage containers, automotive parts and medical equipment. Read more here. (U.K. / Hardware)
- ♻️ Truecircle raised $5.5M in Pre-seed funding to bring data-driven AI to the recycling industry. The company’s AI models can presently identify roughly 50 different waste categories, including the item’s material, weight, brand, and whether it’s food-grade. Lowercarbon Capital led the round. Read more here. (U.K. / Software & Hardware)
- ☀️ Solivus raised $3.17M in Seed funding to expand its “skin-like” solar film that can be wrapped across flat roofs of warehouses, stadiums, and large offices. Founders Factory led the round. Read more here. (U.K. / Hardware)
- ♻️ Mi Terro raised $1.5M in funding to convert agricultural waste into proteins for plastic replacements, animal feeds, and other end uses. Astanor led the round. Read more here. (U.S. / Consumer Goods)
ELSEWHERE IN CLIMATE TECH
- 🌍 Climate: We’ve talked a lot about drought in the Western U.S. so far this year… but Europe’s going through it rn too…
- 📊 Data: Regenerative ag = not just for soil carbon sequestration. It stands to reason conceptually, but a new study shows it makes for better food, too.
- 📊 Data: Energy abundance is possible. I know this not because I’m from the future, but because it’s here. In places like Texas under optimal conditions at least. Increasingly their problem isn’t ‘can we produce it’. It’s ‘can we monetize or store it’?
- ☀️ Cause for optimism: Think electrification is an insurmountable battle? The share of solar power in Uruguay went from 0 to 40% in less than a decade.
- 🌊 Cause for optimism: As we’ve mused in a few newsletters now, one wonders whether Russia’s invasion of Ukraine portends positive tailwinds for decarbonization. Anecdotally, it seems that ripples are already turning into waves…
- 💸 Cause for optimism: A big U.S. coal company is diversifying… into renewables via its own development fund. There’s no secret about where the future of energy lies. The pace of transition is the key lever.
- 💡 Opportunities: Why cities are among the foremost areas of opportunity for climate tech innovation