Chante Harris, Director, Climate Investment & Partnerships, Venture for ClimateTech
Climate tech investment has been growing rapidly in the past couple of years. According to PwC's State of Climate Tech 2021, climate tech investment by venture capital and private equity amounted to $87.5 billion in the twelve-month period ending June 30, 2021, and over $60 billion in the first half of 2021 – with the most significant growth in "mobility and transport" and "industry, manufacturing and resource management." But innovation must start somewhere. And fostering that innovation is the mission of Chante Harris, Director of Climate Investment and partnerships at Venture For ClimateTech (V4C). As Chante notes, "to help secure a brighter, more sustainable future for everyone, we must address the gap in support and funding for early-stage innovations that exists today."
V4C aims to close that gap by building a diverse coalition of founders, investors, innovators, and technical experts committed to catalyzing new climate tech solutions. V4C provides funding, resources, and tailored mentorship to innovators and founders who have an idea or technology with the potential to substantially reduce greenhouse gases and positively help communities most impacted by climate change. Following a venture studio + accelerator model, V4C sources the most promising climate tech innovators from around the world and offers them hands-on support until they are ready for first customers, pilot runs, and investment.
And Chante and V4C are just getting started. V4C launched in 2021 and, in its inaugural year, had over 600 unique applications from innovators in 64 countries. From that overwhelming response, V4C selected 11 companies, putting its acceptance rate at 1.5%. Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, has for years advocated that climate change is an issue of human rights, disproportionately affecting marginalized communities and people in the U.S. and around the world. As a result, assembling a cohort with diverse backgrounds and from around the globe was a priority for V4C. Companies in the inaugural cohort came from Poland, Spain, and around the United States. And 75% of the companies had executive teams that were diverse by gender or race.
Some of the cutting-edge solutions being developed by the first cohort include:
- Flexible, aerodynamic blades that achieve optimal shape to increase wind turbine energy output.
- An emission- and synthetic coolant-free technology for air conditioners and refrigerator systems.
- A system to convert waste CO2 in plastics and carbon fibers into the chemical acrylonitrile to improve the resource intensive production process used to create electronics, clothes, and carpets.
- A liquid natural gas-fueled hypersonic aircraft with the landing precision of a helicopter.
- Technology to produce sustainably sourced minerals through captured brine waste from desalination plants for use in solar energy storage and applied road surface treatments.
- A fully renewable form of polyurethane for use in foams, coatings, and adhesives in footwear, fabrics, and outdoor gear.
- An investment platform and marketplace that enables a broader range of individual investors to invest in the renewable energy projects they select; and
- Technology that transforms lamp posts into smart electric vehicle charging stations managed by a mobile application.
Nine of the companies in the cohort completed all three phases of the program. Phase One focused on helping the teams validate their market opportunity, business model, and their greenhouse gas impact. Phase Two focused on helping the companies develop and begin to execute their strategy around their capital stack, culminating in the For ClimateTech Summit. And Phase Three focused on supporting the teams through conversations with investors and potential partners introduced through the Summit. On average, the companies that completed the three program phases grew their team size by two to three times and raised over $11 million in public and private investment. That is a strong indication that many of these groundbreaking solutions could achieve commercialization and fulfill the goal Chante and V4C are working towards of "growing early-stage solutions across key markets to create real impact in solving climate change."
Learn more about the companies in V4C's 2021 cohort here.