ClimateTech Innovators – We Can Help!

Originally posted on Medium by Jacqueline Ros Amable

“The bigger risk, however, is still that promising technologies won’t get the early funding they need to develop into successful businesses.”

This quote by Sivaram Varun, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, appeared recently in a great MIT Technology Review article by James Temple. Reading about this problem gave me a sense of déja vu.

Early in my career, when I worked in education through Teach For America, a thought that would keep me up at night was how a lack of appropriate funding for the school hurt the chances for success of almost all of my students. I often wondered, “Is the person with the great mind to solve cancer here but lack the access to support or opportunity to fulfill their potential?”

As I prepared to enter the climate tech space, I’ve had similar thoughts. “Will a lack of funding for early innovation prevent us from solving our world’s climate crisis? Could the next great founder in this space be stuck because of a lack of access to opportunity, aka to angel, pre-seed investors, or alternative funding sources who understand their unique challenges? As highlighted in the article quoted above, it’s true VCs can “avoid another bloodbath” in cleantech by taking a safer route to investing. They can also adopt an investment model that more accurately reflects this sector’s longer cycle for returns. But will this approach create the systems evolution we need to get back on the ecological track? Will it leave transformative ideas on paper instead of in the market?

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