Climate Tech Solutions
SOSV, Mayfield & the UN Joint SDG Fund in a discussion on effective investment approaches to Climate Tech Solutions.
Recently, Genesis Consortium hosted an event on Climate Tech Solutions. The panel featured:
- Sean O’Sullivan, Managing Director and Partner at SOSV, the second most active venture capital fund in 2020
- Lisa Kurbiel, Head of Secretariat at the United Nations Joint SDG Fund
- Arvind Gupta, Partner at Mayfield Fund and Founder and Venture Advisor at IndieBio.
“Climate Tech Solutions” was moderated by Maya Lockwood, Head of Investor Relations at IndieBio.
The guests discussed their unique approaches to Climate tech, and shared insights on investment themes, and the impact of venture capital in global efforts for a better planet.
Approaches to Creating Companies with Climate Tech Solutions
From de-risking to investing and working towards a better capitalism, each panelist’s organization has a unique approach for creating and supporting Climate Tech solutions. Their underlying motivation, however, is the same — to make the world better and more equitable. Collectively, their funds manage around $4 billion and are actively investing in climate tech solutions across sectors, including food, fashion, infrastructure, and energy.
Lisa Kurbiel spoke extensively about the UN Joint SDG Fund’s de-risking approach to promoting climate investments in emerging markets. “It’s not easy to begin in green energy in the first place, but it could be even more difficult to do so in Rwanda, Sudan or Colombia,” she explained. “The UN, being present on the ground, is the first to take the feasibility study. We are the first to engage governments, the first to look at the legislative framework and, basically, try to pave the way for investors to change the game.”
At SOSV, their approach is a different kind of first, Sean O’Sullivan said. They work with, and fund early-stage climate tech solution start-ups. “Often, it’s just a couple of founders, a prototype, or a well-developed capability that’s been proven out somewhat in the labs,” According to Sean. “We’ll take the jump and put in the first quarter of a million dollars.” Their work also involves helping the start-ups to build their teams, de-risking the companies for later-stage investors, and co-investing up to Series A.
“We can’t change the social system we’re in, but we can work within it to create goods and services that really do help people and create a better future.” This is how Arvind Gupta described Mayfield Fund’s efforts to fight the effects of industrial capitalism with a better capitalism. “Truly, the mechanism of capitalism, I think, is the best way to disrupt the capitalism that got us here.” From food to fashion, the fund supports companies using new technologies like biology to create goods and services that are better for people and better for the planet.
Current and Future Investment Themes for Creating Impact
The panelists discussed the current and future themes their funds are exploring, highlighting some of the ways climate tech solutions are impacting people, companies, and countries.
Food, fashion, and building materials are some current themes Arvind is looking at in climate tech solutions. According to him, “You can’t stop people’s consumption, so you really just reinvent production. I think that’s a far more productive place to spend your time.” An example he cited in this area is Carbix, an Indie Bio company reinventing the production of concrete in a climate-friendly matter. On future investment themes, Arvind said, “I can see the entire space of accountability hasn’t been created. I think there’s going to be a higher class of software- and technology-enabled stack that’s going to be developed around accounting for the carbon and the emissions.”
Lisa described the UN Joint SDG Fund as focused on amplifying the innovations emerging from the developing world. “We try to make it more considerable to consider a project that is in another continent … but which could be equally, if not more powerful, in terms of impacts on the planet.” Climate change mitigation, reducing carbon emissions, modernizing agricultural supply chains, and enhancing nutrition are some areas of focus she mentioned. Many of the countries in which the Joint SDG fund operates are just building infrastructure. By working with governments and sparking investments in such developing countries, the fund gives them the chance to do it sustainably from the get-go.
On his part, Sean’s fund, SOSV, has backed companies in the food and materials sectors, amongst others. Overall, he has a three-sided outlook: “What is going to possibly decrease consumption while increasing efficiency, and while being acceptable enough as a load on people’s behavior that they’re willing to make that change?” To him, wastefulness across sectors, including food and separation technology, is a significant area that needs to be addressed. Mori, one of the companies that went through SOSV’s Food-X Accelerator, is creating solutions in this regard by using a water-based compound to reduce food waste.
Undoubtedly, these three funds build partnerships and synergies that are focused on creating a sustainable future. To learn more about Climate Tech solutions in the private and public sectors, please watch the full video of the event with Lisa Kurbiel, Sean O’Sullivan, and Arvind Gupta. Genesis Consortium invites you to join this conversation as we all work to promote human and planetary evolution.