While most startup sectors have seen diminished funding in recent quarters, carbon capture- and storage-focused companies look like a notable exception.
This past year, over half a billion dollars has gone to dozens of upstarts working on technologies to reduce industrial carbon emissions, store captured CO2, and navigate the complex landscape of carbon credits. It’s a global cohort, with financings in six continents spanning from São Paulo to Stockholm.
The past few weeks have been particularly busy. On Tuesday, CarbonCure Technologies, a Nova Scotia-based carbon removal startup focused on the concrete industry, announced it raised $80 million.
A few weeks before that, Charm Industrial, a San Francisco startup that uses plant matter and bio-oil to sequester carbon, picked up $100 million in Series B funding. On the software side, meanwhile, Supercritical, a London-based operator of a carbon removal offsets marketplace, landed $13 million in a June Series A.
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For a broader picture of where investment is going, we used Crunchbase data to curate a list of 43 companies with business models tied to carbon removal, capture and storage that last secured funding in the past year:
Evidently, there’s plentiful capital to go around for companies innovating around infrastructure, software and materials with an eye to capturing and storing more atmospheric carbon and industrial waste. To date, companies on this list alone have raised over $1.25 billion in equity funding.
Unfortunately, there’s also more carbon dioxide floating around than ever.
This spring, measured CO2 levels climbed further into territory not seen for millions of years, according to a June report from scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. CO2 levels are now more than 50% higher than they were before the onset of the industrial era.
Top themes: platforms, greener products and capture technology
Of course, no one’s expecting a handful of funded startups to take us back to pre-industrial carbon levels. In terms of making a contribution, however, they have some ambitious agendas.
Visions for doing so vary widely, but broadly we see companies on the list fall into a handful of categories:
First, there are those innovating on the software and platform side with marketplaces for carbon credits and measuring tools for enterprises. This includes San Francisco-based Patch Technologies, which has raised more than $80 million and is working on an API for carbon removal.
Others include New York-based Carbon Direct, which develops tools for carbon management, and London’s Supercritical, with the goal of helping businesses tackle the climate crisis and reach carbon net zero.
The production of industrial materials — and cement in particular — is a major contributor to CO2 emissions, and startups have taken notice. Svante, a Canadian company that makes filters and machines that capture and remove CO2 from industrial emissions, has raised over $470 million to date — more than any other company on the list.
CarbonCure, meanwhile, is initially focused on concrete, while Plantd, a North Carolina company that raised its Series A this year, is working on carbon-negative building materials made from grasses.
Others are working on technologies and business models aimed at reducing atmospheric carbon. Among the most ambitious of this group is Captura, which is developing a system for capturing carbon dioxide from ocean water at scale. Straddling both the carbon removal and offsets management is Sao Paulo-based Mombak, a carbon removal company that focuses on the reforestation of the Amazon.
Still a pretty early-stage crowd
Companies on our list are predominantly early and seed stage, which indicates there’s room for bigger rounds ahead should late-stage investors decide to pull out their checkbooks.
With a few well-funded exceptions, most of the companies on the list are also fairly new. More than two-thirds were founded in the past four years, per Crunchbase data. That means we’re also still in the very early stages of seeing how business plans play out at scale.
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Illustration: Dom Guzman
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