News - May 27, 2020

Finding cleantech funding in times of COVID19

Written by Willem van Hasselt 3 min read

Challenging times for entrepreneurs ask for new solutions to bring them in touch with funding opportunities

It may feel repetitive to speak about the “challenging times” we are living. Perhaps we can see them as inspiring times too. Inspiring because businesses, people and governments are getting creative in the way they move forward, how they change their business models.

We too have had to reinvent how we engage with our community: Moving our latest innovator coaching event hosted by P&G online, we also kick-started a new monthly investment e-pitch programme dedicated to the Solar Impulse Labelled solutions. Our mission: Bringing clean and profitable solutions in touch with the investment world during uncertain times, to ensure the most promising technologies and most innovative business models get the funding they need to deliver the impact they promise.

In this endeavour, we teamed up with Bpifrance’s international matchmaking platform EuroQuity. Their member base boasts close to 2000 investors but what’s more, they’ve been successfully running e-pitches since 2013. While we’ve contributed to some of these initiatives in the past, it was time to step up our game and create a tailor made programme for the best in class cleantech solutions.

Joining up efforts, network and experience, our inaugural session on Thursday May 7th was kicked off by Bpifrance’s Pascal Lagarde and Bertrand Piccard himself.

Bpifrance, which is the French Public Investment Bank, is at the heart of the French SME investment ecosystem, and very much connected to the key pan-European players. The collaboration with Solar Impulse Foundation to source best-in-class green international startups becomes all the more relevant in light of the bank’s climate change programme. Mr. Lagarde highlighted this ambitious plan to double last year’s 3bn euro-strong deployment in green impact businesses by 2023 on the one hand, whilst on the other, offering tailored methodology, advisory and financing services to ensure the smooth environmental transition of all companies directly or indirectly financed by the bank.

Bertrand Piccard echoed the importance of a collaboration with Bpifrance. Their extensive experience in organising investor e-pitches gained even stronger relevance in light of the COVID19 pandemic, to ensure that in difficult times, clean and efficient technologies can find the necessary funding to scale. Building this bridge is also of service to investors because “just imagine the industrial market we could develop if we were able to replace everything that is currently polluting into something that protects the environment”. Capitalising on these energy efficiencies can boost a qualitative economic growth. Realistic or wishful thinking?

Just imagine the industrial market we could develop if we were able to replace everything that is currently polluting into something that protects the environment

The reality is rooted in proof: Almost 500 solutions labelled (at the time of writing) by the Solar Impulse Foundation, which can protect the environment whilst generating economic opportunity. And during this inaugural e-pitch, five were invited to present in front of almost 100 investors:

  • The Belgian Shayp developed a simple and reliable water and leakage control technology and has already saved 200 million liters of otherwise spilled water, saving on water bills and delivering an impressive 1 year payback time. 

  • Ubiblue, from France, developed a non-polluting refrigeration technology based on the magnetocaloric effect. 

  • Bloom Biorenewables from Switzerland boasted an economically viable biomass solution, with patented techniques that offer alternatives to the high value petroleum-based product derivatives using parts of the biomass that would otherwise be wasted. 

  • Our Spanish contender, AlgaEnergy presented their business centred around products based on the growth of highly efficient microalgae. 

  • The session was concluded by ECOncrete, from Israel presenting its bio-enhanced and superior concrete used for breakwaters, seawalls and dykes in a way that reduces risk and increases ocean health.

Over 200 companies signed up to pitch for this session. In order to partake, companies needed to have at least one solution attributed with the Solar Impulse Label. For all those we had to disappoint (we were only able to provide five slots!) and those still awaiting their label application outcome, the good news is that these sessions will be recurring monthly. On the investor side there were over 100 registrations to join the session. With these kinds of numbers, we can conclude that the current crisis has only increased the traction for high quality e-pitches of best-in-class clean and efficient startups. Forward-looking business models that make the status quo evolve, rather than endure. This is why we’ll be back with more thirst-quenching pitches in early June.

Did you want to read more about the individual pitching companies? You can do so here. If you’d like to tune in as an investor in one of our next rounds, get in touch!

This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Willem van Hasselt. See the original post

Written by Willem van Hasselt on May 27, 2020

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