We designed the the SOSV Climate Tech Summit (October 20-21, 2021) to support founders and investors who are eager to develop a stronger climate tech ecosystem. More than 4000 people registered from more than 90 countries. We have posted the videos from the main stage sessions on SOSV’s YouTube channel. They are linked from each main stage session below.
One programming note: Climate tech is such a broad category that we could not possibly cover all the important sub-categories in eight hours of programming over two days. We chose to focus on compelling founders – early stage and later stage – working in some of the toughest emerging categories, as well as the most experienced and consequential investors. We wish we could have included more of the people and topics no less critical to the sector.
Welcome to SOSV Climate Tech Summit
Bill Gates and Breakthrough Energy: Accelerating viability
Bill Gates is the ultimate startup founder, and he is committed to heading off a climate catastrophe. It came as no surprise in 2015 when he launched Breakthrough Energy, a network of investment vehicles, philanthropic initiatives, and policy programs designed to accelerate the clean energy transition. But can the climate tech startups supported by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and others spin up fast enough to “transform virtually every activity in modern life and every major sector of the economy: electricity, agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and buildings” by 2050, as the Breakthrough mission suggests? We are eager to hear from Mr. Gates how he sees the startup system evolving in response to the challenge.
- Bill Gates, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Author, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need
- Moderator: Amy Harder, Executive Editor, Cipher by Breakthrough Energy
Getting from zero to funded
Climate tech has its own specialized collection of “accelerator” programs aimed at helping zero-stage founders get off the ground and we’ll hear from leaders at four of them. What should be a founder’s priorities at the start? What founder profiles bring a higher likelihood of success? What are these programs looking for in prospects? We have lots of questions and know attendees will too.
- Audun Abelsnes, Managing Director, Techstars Energy
- Nina Heir, CEO, Katapult
- Dr. Emily Reichert, CEO, Greentown Labs
- Po Bronson, General Partner, SOSV; Co-author, Decoding the World
- Moderator: David Rowan, Founder Voyagers.io and former Founding Editor-in-chief, Wired (UK), Author, Non-Bullsh*t Innovation: How the World’s Smartest Leaders Manage Change
Deep tech investors on how founders survive the “valleys of death”
A recent Climate Tech VC report pointed out the number of fundings in climate tech doubled in the first half of 2021 versus 2020, but climate startups are still often seen as risky, slow to market, and very capital intensive. Our speakers—from venture firms that earned strong reputations for supporting early stage climate tech companies—will share their insights on why the climate investments are heating up and which sectors are showing the most promise. We will also ask which factors seem to drive founders’ success and how founders can avoid the “valleys of death” that can challenge startups in the deep tech and climate categories.
- Dr. Kiersten Stead, Managing Partner, DCVC
- Katie Rae, CEO and Managing Partner, The Engine
- Suzanne Fletcher, General Partner, Prime Movers Lab
- Arvind Gupta, Partner, Mayfield; Founder, IndieBio; Co-author, Decoding the World
- Moderator Danny Chrichton, Managing Editor, TechCrunch
Re-inventing the material world
The stuff we make—from steel to cement to fabric—is one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and so making things differently, sustainably is one of the great climate-tech challenges. Sublime Systems is developing technology to decarbonize cement-making, while Spintex spins high performance silk fibres using dramatically less energy. Both face enormous technical and market challenges that they are determined to overcome.
- Dr. Leah Ellis, CEO, Sublime Systems
- Alex Greenhalgh, CEO, Spintex
- Kevin Martin, co-founder, Unspun
- Moderator Kevin Samy, R-Zero
Upside Food’s Uma Valeti: Alternative proteins and a slaughter-free future
Uma Valeti knew there must be a better way to get chicken than killing one. The cardiologist pioneered cultured meat as a way to both meet that challenge and address climate change—19% of greenhouse gases result from current food production practices. Upside (formerly known as Memphis Meats) produced the world’s first cultured beef meatball in 2016 and the first cultured chicken and duck in 2017. A leader in an increasingly crowded field, Upside’s moment may be about to arrive.
- Uma Valeti, MD, CEO and founder, Upside Foods
- Moderator Larissa Zimberoff, Writer focused on the intersection of food and technology; Author, Technically Food: Inside Silicon Valley’s Mission To Change What We Eat
Pivot Bio: The Fertilizer Revolution
Following its $430M series D, Pivot Bio is on a mission to make agriculture cleaner. Its technology eliminates the adverse effects of synthetic nitrogen and could prevent $200 billion in environmental damage over the next decade, all while delivering consistent yields and profits for farmers in the face of a volatile climate. The company introduced the first commercial microbial nitrogen in 2019 and has replaced synthetic nitrogen on more than one million crop acres in 2021 alone—more than five times the size of New York City.
- Dr. Karsten Temme, CEO & Co-Founder of Pivot Bio, Inc
- Sophie Purdom, Co-Founder of Climate Tech VC, early stage investor
“When Life Gives You CO₂…” How to capture and use carbon dioxide emissions
Globally, carbon offsets are traded on ETS generally well below $100/tCO₂. The trouble is that most solutions for carbon capture and storage still cost well above $100 per ton. Who will close the gap? We’ll hear from two founders who believe they have the technology and business model to get there. And to keep the conversation grounded, we’ll run it by a scientist whose life’s work is to figure out carbon capture.
- Josh Santos, CEO, Noya
- David Tze, CEO, NovoNutrients
- Dr. Clea Kolster, Director of Science, Lowercarbon Capital
- Moderator Jonathan Shieber, Editor, Footprint Coalition; Former Climate Editor, TechCrunch
Beyond “beyond”—next-generation alternative proteins can help reach “peak meat”
Seventy percent of Americans have tried alternative protein products, but the sector’s actual market share is still just around 3%. This suggests consumers are very open to foodtech, but durably making a dent in climate change requires something more than what exists in the market today. On this panel, we’ll talk with three founders bringing next generation products to the market soon.
The U.S. is expected to peak in total meat consumption in 2025. But the real impact of this sector will be global. Internationally, the surging middle class has driven up meat consumption by 58% in 20 years— and with it, all associated emissions and problems.
- Dr. Lisa Dyson, CEO, Air Protein
- Dr. Inja Radman, Co-founder and CSO, New Culture
- Dr. Sandhya Sriram, CEO Shiok Meats
- Moderator Po Bronson, General Partner, SOSV; Managing Director, IndieBio; Co-author, Decoding the World
Stanley Chan (Chen Qiufan): The Waste Tide—looking back on the future
The science-fiction sub-genre “cli-fi” (climate fiction) goes back at least to Jules Verne’s Purchase of the North Pole (1889), but one of its modern masters is Stanley Chan, who will discuss how fiction helps us think better about avoiding dystopian futures. His first novel The Waste Tide depicted a hellish society built around electronic waste, and his latest, A.I. 2014, contains visions of an A.I.-dominated future. Stanley is also president of the World Chinese Science Fiction Association.
- Stanley Chan (Chen Qiufan), Cli-Fi Author, The Waste Tide, A.I. 2041
- Moderator Jason Pontin, Partner, DCVC; Former Editor-in-Chief, MIT Technology Review
LanzaTech: Capturing Carbon
Harnessing the power of biology and big data.
- Jennifer Holmgren, CEO, Lanzatech
- Moderator: Jon Shieber, Editor, Footprint Coalition; Former Climate Editor, TechCrunch
Boston Metal: Decarbonizing Steel Production
Transforming how metals are made.
Idealab’s Bill Gross: Converting radical ideas into ground breaking companies
The Idealab founder is CEO and founder of Heliogen as well as chairman and founder of two other climate tech companies, Energy Vault and Carbon Capture. What does it take to move complex, daring projects from concept to physical reality? Few know better than Bill Gross—creator of more than 150 companies in the last 30 years, with more than 50 successful IPOs and acquisitions, and 7 exits at over $1 billion each.
Ira Ehrenpreis and DBL: How high impact brings high returns
Top-tier venture capital returns can go hand-in-hand with social, environmental, and economic improvement. That’s the mission Ira Ehrenpreis set out when he co-founded DBL Partners, which has invested in Tesla, Solar City, and Zola Electric, among many others in the climate-tech category. In fact, Ehrenpreis was an early investor in the first cleantech wave and has been a Tesla board member for more than a decade. Few investors have had a better ringside seat on climate-tech investing over the past decade, so we’ll be asking him what has changed and what the future holds.
- Ira Ehrenpreis, Founder and Managing Partner, DBL Partners
- Moderator Duncan Turner, General Partner, SOSV, Managing Director, HAX
Vinod Khosla: Searching for the “instigators” who will make a difference
Were the reports of cleantech’s death greatly exaggerated? How did those investments pan out and what’s different a decade later? Sector veteran Vinod Khosla will share his insights on how a “Clean Dozen” of entrepreneurs with breakthrough technologies could turn the climate crisis into societal transformation.
- Vinod Khosla, Founder, Khosla Ventures
- Moderator Connie Loizos, Silicon Valley Editor, TechCrunch, Author, StrictlyVC newsletter
Amazon’s Matt Peterson: What the $2 billion climate pledge fund means for founders
Amazon has committed to get its vast infrastructure operating at net-zero carbon by 2040, and one avenue leading to that goal is Amazon’s $2B Climate Pledge Fund. Matt Peterson leads that corporate venture capital fund’s investments in companies that may help Amazon close its carbon gap faster. What Amazon is learning will touch many sectors—from transport and logistics to facility operations—and pose big opportunities for startups. Redwood Materials is one of Amazon’s recent investments, focused on sustainable materials for EV batteries. It was founded by the Tesla co-founder and former CTO JB Straubel, and recently raised $700M.
- Matt Peterson, Director, Amazon Climate Pledge Fund
- Jason Thompson, CFO, Redwood Materials
- Moderator Ben Joffe, Partner, SOSV
Washington and Brussels have billions. They are looking for founders
Both the Biden administration and the E.U. have committed billions over the coming years to support innovation in climate technologies. This session will help aspiring and existing startup founders understand the various programmes and instruments available and how to increase their chances of receiving both support and non-dilutive funding.
- Dr. Rajesh Mehta, SBIR/STTR Program Director, Environmental Technologies, NSF
- Dr. Jennifer Gerbi, Acting Director, ARPA-E
- Dr. Francesco Matteucci, Program Manager in Green Technologies at European Innovation Council (EIC) and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA)
- Moderator Dr. Pae Wu, Partner, SOSV; CTO, IndieBio
Form Energy’s Mateo Jaramillo: Solving for the Achilles heel of renewable energy
The biggest issues of wind and solar is that they are variable and intermittent. The solution is low-cost, multi-day energy storage. Can Form Energy’s iron-air technology reach the holy grail price of $20/kWh? That’s what Form Energy founder and CEO Mateo Jaramillo (former vice president of products and programs for Tesla’s stationary energy storage program) aims to deliver. If he is successful, the grid and renewables will be transformed.
Big VC climate rounds: How do the check-writers think about later stages?
How much capital and time do planetary-scale climate startups need? What is the right balance between equity investment and project finance? How do corporations, governments, and disrupted incumbents come into play? Leading investors share their vision of what makes such startups attractive, and how to play the long game for our planet.
- Gabriel Kra, Managing Director and Co-founder, Prelude Ventures
- Jeff Johnson, Managing Director, Temasek
- Scott Jacobs, CEO & Co-Founder, Generate
- Moderator Connie Loizos, Silicon Valley Editor, TechCrunch, Author, StrictlyVC newsletter
Tony Fadell: Investing in our future and leaving the planet better than we found it
The inventor of the iPod, the iPhone, and Nest thermostat is focused on making the world a better place for his kids (and all of us) to live by investing through Future Shape, his investment and advisory firm—a no-LP fund that has made 200+ investments across the full spectrum from climate tech to biosciences to energy and manufacturing. We’re eager to hear what he believes founders and entrepreneurs can invent next and how they can work towards creating meaningful change via innovation now and in the future.
Takeaways from the SOSV Climate Tech Summit
What have we learned? What can we do now?
These live, 30-minute sessions are designed to help founders (or anyone else who is interested) understand the wide variety of early stage funding opportunities, from government programs, to incubators, accelerators and VCs. They will be scheduled in serial fashion so attendees can attend them all. There will be brief presentations followed by attendee Q&A.
Here are the participating organizations:
The Engine, a fund launched by MIT, “bridges the gap between discovery and commercialization by empowering disruptive technologies with the long-term capital, knowledge, network connections, and the specialized equipment and labs they need to thrive.” Climate tech is a major focus.
Michael Kearney, Principal
(Pssst: Request an invite to The Engine’s Tough Tech Summit here (Oct 27-28)
DCVC partners “with the most innovative scientific and business minds, applying deep tech to create the next great industrial giants.” Climate tech is a major focus and DCVC funds all stages.
Zachary Bogue, Co-founder and Managing Partner
Urban Us funds seed-stage “startups that upgrade cities for climate change.” Urbans Us has invested in over 70 startups for building optimization, food resilience, climate insurance, water demand shaping, and more.
Shaun Abrahamson, Managing Partner
IndieBio is an SOSV startup development program focused on biology with more than 160 graduates from its NY and SF offices. IndieBio that turns scientists into entrepreneurs who save lives and save the planet.
Alex Kopelyan, Partner
Third Derivative (D3)
Third Derivative (D3) was founded in 2020 by the Rocky Mountain Institute and New Energy Nexus to find “the most-promising advanced energy technologies to achieve larger, faster reductions in global carbon emissions.”
Bryan Hassin, Co-founder and CEO
MassChallenge is the world’s largest non-profit accelerator. They “connect startups, experts, corporations, and communities to grow and transform businesses and economies.”
Cait Brumme, Senior Vice President
Khosla Ventures “provides venture assistance and strategic advice to entrepreneurs working on breakthrough technologies.” Their seed fund consists of “science or innovation experiments.”
Rajesh Swaminathan, Venture Partner
Prime Movers Lab
Prime Movers Lab funds scientific startups that are “reinventing energy, transportation, infrastructure, manufacturing, human augmentation, and agriculture.
Suzanne Fletcher, General Partner
Techstars Energy—the Oslo-based energy-focused accelerator from Techstars—operates accelerator programs that give startups access to “capital, mentorship, talent, and infrastructure.” Their accelerator portfolio includes more than 1,000 companies with a market cap of $8.1 billion.
Audun Abelsnes, Managing Director
Energy Impact Partners
Energy Impact Partners invests in the “transition towards a cleaner, better energy future.” Their climate tech impact has countered the equivalent of 1.8 million metric tons of CO2 emissions and 2.1 million megawatt hours of electricity.
Shayle Kann, Partner
Kim Zou, Investor
HAX is an SOSV startup development program that provides “hands-on venture capital for hard tech.” SOSV HAX recently announced the development of a new U.S. headquarters for industrial, healthcare, and climate tech startups in Newark, New Jersey.
Ji Ke, Partner
Garrett Winther, Partner
Greentown Labs is a community of climate tech pioneers working to design a more sustainable world. Based in Boston and Houston, their incubators “build on ideas, connect disciplines, and foster creativity.” Register for their Climatetech Summit (Nov 3) here.
Faith Kelnhofer, Executive Communication Manager
The U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) “advances high-potential, high-impact energy technologies that are too early for private-sector investment.” They focus on transformational energy projects that can be meaningfully advanced with a small amount of funding over a defined period of time.”
James Zahler, Associate Director for Technology-to-Market
The European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) provides “high quality support to European innovators, researchers, businesses, and consumers.” Their aim is to “reinforce the European Union’s position as a global leader in research” and “maintain high standards of protection for its citizens towards a more competitive, digital, green, and inclusive EU.”
Francesco Matteucci, Program Manager
Elemental Excelerator is a pioneer of nonprofit climate tech accelerators “on a mission to redesign systems at the root of our climate crisis.”
Benny Kim, Dealflow Manager
Mitch Rubin, Director of Innovation
Katapult VC runs the climate tech accelerators Ocean, Climate, and Africa. It has “invested in 120 startups, including 30 direct investments, all of which are working to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”
Nina Heir, Katapult Accelerator CEO
The National Science Foundation (NSF) SBIR/STTR programs are “America’s Seed Fund” to back Environmental Technologies. The NSF aims to “promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense.”
Rajesh Mehta, Program Director and SBIR/STTR
Don’t forget to register whiles there are still spots available.