DEALS IN FOCUS
By Nick Van Osdol
DEALS IN FOCUS
This week gets weird (and wooly).
I personally would love to see Wooly Mammoths roaming the Earth again. I get a kick out of anthropomorphizing almost any animal, and would have an absolute field day with something like a 24/7 live cam of Wooly Mammoths in Siberia.
That said, if someone asked me to deploy $75M of capital into a single climate tech startup, one that resurrects giant furry elephants wouldn’t be high on my list.
Of course, no one asked me. Colossal Biosciences raised $15M in seed funding six months ago, and now has another $60M in tow for its Series A.
The idea? Genuinely to resurrect Wooly Mammoth’s by bioengineering old Mammoth DNA and combining it with modern Asian elephants’ DNA. No, this is not an early April fool’s joke.
While mammoth ‘safaris’ could certainly be a business model, Colossal Biosciences touts climate impact as one of its main focuses. For one, they envision Mammoths compacting snow and ice by walking on it (en masse presumably), which they say could help prevent the permafrost from melting.
I’m in no position to evaluate the validity of that claim, or the 600M CO2e tonne emissions reduction opportunity they quote would go along with it. What I can see clearly however is that if this plan is contingent on many hundreds or thousands of mammoths romping around northern Russia… then it’s going to take a long time before this ‘climate tech’ is viable. The world needs emissions reductions by 2030.
I am a huge fan of thinking of climate change in terms of entire ecosystems, not just carbon emissions. And I’m tickled by the idea that I could see something like a Wooly Mammoth in my lifetime. But given the timescales at play here, I’m not a huge fan of the capital allocation. At least from a climate tech perspective – I’m sure there’s a biotech and bioengineering angle that’s awfully exciting. Good luck to ’em.
Spent nuclear fuel storage is one of the biggest critiques of and challenges facing the nuclear power industry; it requires a lot of time, money, and management.
Last week’s events at the site of the old Chernobyl nuclear power plant illuminated how spent fuel rods require continuous cooling and safe storage. Often, rods are placed in cold storage underground. At Chernobyl, they still sit in pools that have to be kept cool as they absorb heat as radioactive material in the rods continues to decay. Keeping the pool’s cold requires electricity; people were rightly raising concerns because power went out at the Chernobyl site (although lots of people were also overdoing it).
All of this speaks to the challenge of storing spent nuclear fuel. Beyond active management and electricity needs for cooling, siting and building the infrastructure for long-term storage (we’re talking hundreds to thousands of years) is even more intensive.
The world’s installed nuclear power generating capacity hasn’t grown that much over the past two decades. Solutions for storage are critical if the nuclear industry is going to seize this moment of heightened focus on moving away fossil fuels to grow again. Better Uranium (U) recycling = more likely nuclear power can make a ‘U’-turn.
That’s the challenge area that TerraPower received new grant funding to tackle. TerraPower received north of $8M in federal funding (from ARPA-e specifically) to improve Uranium reclamation and recycling from spent nuclear fuel. Reusing more uranium wouldn’t just reduce nuclear waste; it would reduce costs and Uranium extraction’s negative environmental impact as well. Plus, as with O&G, Uranium supply chains come with plenty of interdependence too.
Beyond this project, TerraPower is most well known for its efforts to prove the viability of nuclear fusion for electricity generation. And for its co-founder and chairman, Bill Gates. Definitely one to watch, considering their approach involves innovation with applications to both nuclear fusion and fission.
DEAL HEAT 🔥
Here are financing rounds and new funds that caught our eyes this week 🙇.
- ⚡ Menlo Micro raised $150M in Series C funding for its Ideal Switch technology. The Ideal Switch is an efficient and resilient reinvention of an electronic switch. The climate impact implications are in efficiency and in extending the life of devices (less resource extraction). Vertical Venture Partners and Future Shape led the round. Read more here. (U.S. / Hardware)
- ⚡ Tibber raised $100M in Series C funding to reduce electricity consumption in homes and offices with its energy consumption analytics app. Summa Equity led the round. Read more here. (Norway / Software & Hardware)
- 🦣 Colossal Biosciences raised $60M in Series A funding to resurrect the Wooly Mammoth and condense ice and snow atop permafrost (preventing it from melting and releasing GHG emissions). You read all that right. Thomas Tull and At One Ventures led the round. Read more here. (U.S. / …Hardware? 😂)
- 🐟 Finless Foods raised $34M in Series B funding for its cell-cultured seafood business, which focuses specifically on making a plant-based alternative to tuna. Hanwha Solutions led the round. Read more here. (U.S. / Consumer Goods)
- ⚡ CIMET raised $26.6M in venture funding for its B2B SaaS platform that helps customers compare different energy offerings. iSelect led the round. Read more here. (Australia / Software)
- 🌬️ Aradatum raised $15M in venture funding to build self-powered mobile towers for wireless communication, 5G access and EV charging systems. Importantly, these towers are powered with a patented wind turbine, which also powers the EV charging offering with the excess energy it produces. Multisolve! Read more here. (U.S. / Hardware)
- ☢️ Radiant raised $12.6M in venture funding for its portable nuclear microreactors, which are optimized to provide electricity in remote locations that lack other good power generation options or might need to relocate in the future, like military bases. Read more here. (U.S. / Hardware)
- ☢️ TerraPower raised $8.5M in grant funding to establish better uranium recovery and recycling methods from spent nuclear fuel. Terrapower claims to be able to reduce the amount of nuclear waste that needs to be stored 10x. The Bill Gates co-founded business also works on proving the viability of nuclear fission for electricity generation. The U.S. Department of Energy funded the grant. Read more here. (U.S. / Hardware)
- 📊 ESGgo raised $7M in Seed funding for its ESG data monitoring software. Glilot Capital led the round. Read more here. (Israel / Software)
- 🛒 Provenance raised $5M in venture funding for its Proof Point technology, which offers customers sustainability information at the point of sale. Working Capital Innovation Fund and Nordic Eye led the round. Read more here. (U.K. / Software)
- ♻️ Plastic Move raised $4.5M in seed funding for its upcycling technology aimed at reducing the amount of petroleum required to make plastics. The company uses starches and food waste as products to make plastics and reduce use of petroleum. Read more here. (Turkey / Consumer Goods)
- ♻️ Minus Global raised $3.53M in venture funding to reduce food waste. The company helps food waste producers track and optimize their food purchasing practices. It also makes an aerobic digestion system to process waste and reduce landfilling. Kensington Capital Partners led the round. Read more here. (Canada /Hardware)
- 🚚 Packaly raised $2.62M in Seed funding to decarbonize last-mile delivery services. Fairtree Elevant Ventures led the round. Read more here. (Netherlands / Transportation)
- 🧻 Cheeky Panda raised $2.51M in Equity crowdfunding to expand its bamboo based tissue products business. The company uses sustainably sourced bamboo to reduce the resource intensivity of its products. ~1,700 people participated in the crowdfunding. Read more here. (U.K. / Consumer Goods)
- ⬇️ Kathairos Solutions raised $1.58M in grant funding for its proposed ‘Simple Methane Elimination Using Nitrogen’ project, which aims at reducing methane emissions from oil and gas wells. The Government of Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) led the grant. Read more here. (Canada / Hardware)
- 🌳 Ligna Energy raised $1.42M in Series A funding for its large-scale energy storage technology. Uniquely, Ligna Energy’s energy storage materials are exclusively made out of forest resources, making them more renewable than rare earths. Klimatet Invest AB led the round. Read more here. (Sweden / Hardware)
- ⚡ Wattnow raised $1.3M in pre-Series A funding to help companies optimize their energy usage. With its IOT devices, Wattnow helps businesses monitor and optimize their energy consumption, which also helps reduce emissions. Katapult Climate and 216 Capital led the round. Read more here. (Tunisia / Software & Hardware)
ELSEWHERE IN CLIMATE TECH
- 🚗 Legislation: The EPA reinstated California’s ability to enforce vehicle emissions standards that are more stringent than the rest of the country’s. This paves the path for other progressive states to ratchet up pressure as well.
- 🚚 Legislation: In the same week, the EPA also tightened tailpipe emissions standards on trucks, vans, and buses. For the first time since 2001. Wild to think we went two decades without an update.
- ☀️ Cause for debate: In our climate tech circles we tend to think of solar panels as a godsend. Not everyone’s fully aligned; there’s plenty of debate about the negative impact solar panels – and especially solar farms – have on their surroundings.
- 💸 Public sector: Amidst significant European energy disruptions, Germany greenlights $220B for ‘industrial transformation,’ much of which will help climate technologies.
- 🛢️ Public sector: The Biden admin doesn’t support a Russian oil ban. At least not yet.
- ⚡ Innovation: GM’s taking bidirectional energy seriously. Theoretically, all EVs should eventually also serve as batteries that help support the grid with back-up power during peak times. Looks like GM agrees, which is good to see.
- 🪙 Innovation: Could the carbon coin from The Ministry for the Future really work? The idea’s been around for a while. Plus, there’s companies working on a version as we speak 👀. More soon.
- ⬇️ Innovation: Stripe’s instrumental role in supporting carbon removal.
- 🦜 Some bad news: Deforestation in the Amazon is accelerating.
- ❤️ Some good news: Dating? Caring about climate will give you a leg up.