Climate Tech: Startups and Investors Tackle Planetary Health

Climate tech is exploding, with $16B in funding across ~250 venture deals in the past 18 months.

Why it matters: As climate change worsens, people are increasingly understanding that health and sustainability are inextricably linked. From wildfire smoke inhalation to food insecurity, climate change is wreaking havoc on our health.

Now, entrepreneurs are innovating to turn down the heat:

Advancing agriculture. A staggering 14% of all food produced is lost between harvest and retail. Tackling this issue are startups leveraging tech, with shelf life-extending solutions like Apeel ($250M) and Hazel Technologies ($70M) or autonomous grocery robots (Shelf Engine, $41M).

Cutting carbon. Decarbonizing the economy is a multi-trillion-dollar opportunity. Looking to help firms reach net zero, B2B carbon tracking startups like Sylvera ($8M), Plan A ($5M), and Sweep ($5M) have secured funding. Elsewhere, Pachama and Nori are promising innovators to watch in this space.

Fighting fires. Wildfires have deadly knock-on effects, from air pollution to habitat destruction. BreezoMeter, which uses AI to forecast air pollutants, raised $30M this year, while tech-powered forest restoration startup DroneSeed secured $36M. Keep an eye out for Google-backed Overstory and Myst AI as well.

Green-ing gear. As we covered recently, fashion is going green. Activewear giants like lululemon, Nike, and adidas are going all-in on sustainable solutions.

Meanwhile, Chris Sacca’s Lowercarbon Capital just raised $800M to “unf*ck” the planet.

But… some investors are getting cold feet. In what some have dubbed the “Cleantech Debacle,” investors lost billions to climate tech in the early 2000s.

Many believe, however, that this time is different.

  • VCs are moving away from high-cost ventures like solar and wind and focusing instead on niche categories.
  • Technology has matured significantly since the 2000s, dropping costs.
  • There are also new resources for investors and the general public, like Bill Gates-backed Cipher and budding upstarts like Keep Cool.

Zooming back out, others are focused on the bigger picture. As Nicolas Sauvage, president of TDK Ventures, puts it:

“The bottom line is… when it comes to addressing climate change, we don’t have a choice, so Cleantech, regardless of the VC ecosystem, is imperative.”

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