Update: This newsletter from 19th March is a full preview of what you can expect from Conviction. While still completely free to subscribe, comment and contribute, readers on the website can sign up and log in to read some stuff by us - not contributors.
Welcome to the bi-weekly Conviction Newsletter focused on impact investing and technology for good with news, opinion and analysis from businesses committed to Sustainable Development Goals.
This week: Natalie Portman’s getting hotter, soldier flies deployed to fight climate change and a new poll reveals what makes people happy.
Start on a high
Recycling makes people happy
In a survey conducted by Ecover, 52 per cent of respondents said single-use plastics were a real downer. On the flipside, 66 per cent get a mood boost from recycling and measures that reduce environmental impact. Ecover conducted the research in anticipation of a new partnership with the reality star and activist Camilla Thurlow,* together launching a revamped, former petrol station as The Ecover Refillery for its product top-ups.
Speaking with Conviction, an expert who was not involved in the research said:
“Recycling gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't.”
*Asked for a cheeky comment from Thurlow about the survey results a spokesperson for Ecover politely dodged the question and asked for this newsletter to be forwarded.
Editor’s note: Conviction is free to subscribers.
Monsoon season at FarmersOnly.Com
We’ve all had that one friend that found themselves in a drought and signed up to Farmers Only to find a cowboy, because ‘city folks just don’t get it.’ Well, turns out, there’s a lot of hot farmer assets out there right now so perhaps those thirsty young lovers were onto something in the first place.
Let’s start with vertical farming, where Netherlands-based agtech Future Crops just closed a round led by China's Tencent. While that was undisclosed, it follows a seed round that nabbed $30 million from investors including A&F Ventures. Then there’s the UK-based startups GrowUp Farms that raise £100 million and Square Mile Farms in an ongoing crowdfunding campaign (more below). The sector is getting so hot M&A is in the air with Local Bounti acquiring rival Hollandia Produce Group for $122.5 million. Good luck finding a cheap date on the market.
You’d think capping this off with a bad joke about PlentyOfFish.com would be enough, but it turns out FarmersOnly.com has a peer on the high seas, SeaCaptainDate.com, claiming to be “the internet's number one dating site for Sea Captains who wish to connect with men and women (on land and on sea) who share a mutual love of the ocean.” You're welcome, singletons, don't let this be the one that got away.
From vertical farming, to alternative eggs, dairy and other products in the protein space, 2022 could well be a tipping point in food system innovation. In just the few weeks since Conviction News reported Wildtype’s $100 million Series B (love you, Leo), cell-based seafood startup Finless announced a $34 million round and plant-based competitor Plantish secured over $12 million.
On land and at sea, sustainable food and agtech can’t seem to get enough love from venture investors. Have a scoop, deal news or niche dating app? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with any we missed.
Watch this space for more on Natalie Portman with more on food and agtech, investors and startups coming soon.
What we’re reading
A Bug’s Life, Ant Island UK, the sequel
A Bug’s Life, the sequel, could conceivably follow the plot of Brexit after Ant Island took back control from the EU’s gang of grasshoppers. The anticlimax and series of unintended consequences continue. “Overnight, everything became illegal,” Tiziana Di Costanzo, Co-Founder of London’s first edible insect farm, Horizon Foods told Sifted. In Sifted’s analysis, the epicentre of European tech and venture investment is missing a huge opportunity.
Speaking with Conviction News, Sasha Babitsky, CEO of Entoprotech and venture partner at Waarde Capital said global regulations and perceptions need to change. While insect-based foods whet the appetite of investors, the Israel-based startup Entoprotech has demonstrated several applications with huge potential for insects to reduce emissions.
Sasha Babitsky, CEO of Entoprotech told Conviction News:
"Insect-based solutions should follow the progression of alternative energy, which were broadly incentivised through their initial stages of development and, today, are reaching grid parity."
- Sabastian Mallaby’s The Power Law will almost certainly become a business classic and definitive guide to the history of venture capital, as reviewers at the FT and elsewhere have raved. Mallaby, author of a similar take on hedgies, More Money Than God, provides a truly unique view of venture capital, origins of the strategy and incredible access to some of the industry’s biggest names. Highly recommended but only from a sustainable and preferably local retailer, not You-Know-Who online (via the Financial Times)
- The Impact Investing Think Tank recently tweeted a podcast recommendation, Better Money, Better World from Impact Captial Managers and we’re paying it forward. In the latest episode, host Daniel Pianko from Achieve Partners speaks with Shaun Abrahamson, Third Sphere about the energy transition (via Impact Investing Think Tank)
- Amid increased focus on the circular economy, GreenBiz has a great contributor piece and explainer from Veena Harbaugh, Director of Sustainability at the carbon-neutral logistics company Sendle, complete with infographics for the visual learners among us (via GreenBiz)
Views with Conviction
Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect from Conviction News in the next few weeks. We’ll have contributor opinions that really get into the weeds, including the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, sustainable blockchain technology and more to follow. In case you missed it, Henry Popiolek, Co-Founder & COO of Staze recently spoke with Conviction News about how to make travel and tourism greener.
Following the preview in this newsletter, Conviction has since spoken with one of Europe’s leading technology companies, before applications close for ABB's Electrification Startup Challenge 31st March. Subscribe for free, follow @ConvictionWire and forward to a founder who could get $30K and a chance to work with ABB, SynerLeap and Microsoft.
More at Conviction News
In the news
The other letters in ESG
Needless to say, this chart is a bit disheartening. For International Women's Day, Dealroom released data showing how much women-founded startups have raised in 2022. Dealroom projects a similar pattern emerging with only 0.4 per cent of European venture capital going to women-founded startups, in line with previous years. The report points to previous findings from First Round Capital and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) that founding teams with women are more likely to exit and have a higher internal rates of return, 112 per cent versus 48 per cent.
“The lack of investment into female-founded startups is a missed economic opportunity. Women founders hire 2.5x more women into their teams, in an industry that struggles with diverse hiring. As this generation of startups shape and define our future societies, also imperative that the make up of our societies are reflected in entrepreneurial teams.”
Dive deeper at Dealroom
- This week a new global coalition of investors unveiled its Global Standard on Responsible Climate Lobbying. The group has almost 4K members that have collectively more than $130TN AUM. According to Reuters, the new standard consists of fourteen policy and practice indicators for compliance, stepping up pressure on global corporates in sustainability (via Responsible Investor)
- The US President, Vice President and Transport Secretary earmarked almost $1.5BN for competitive grants to fund the modernisation of bus fleets and infrastructure across the country as part of the Biden Administration’s post-covid infrastructure drive and revised *Lite-* Green New Deal plans (via CleanTechnica)
Reports, events and competitions
An alarming new study released on the 7th March warns the Amazon rainforest is fast approaching a tipping point and could soon become savannah, plagued by drought and scorched by wildfires in a report that reads like the end of days. Scientists say tree clearing and lower rainfall in the last two decades have left 75 per cent of the basin’s rainforest highly vulnerable which could, even worse, trigger unabated dieback as the Amazon’s capacity to influence its own climate and water cycle is diminished.
Niklas Boers, Professor at the Technical University of Munich:
“Seeing such a resilience loss in observations is worrying. The Amazon rainforest stores huge amounts of carbon that could be released in the case of even partial dieback.”
More at The Guardian
- Pitchbook’s analyst note on ESG, PE, VC and greenwashing is worth a read. "Peeling back the layers of ESG and Impact investing in PE, VC," and WTF, Pitchbook concludes there’s far too much greenwashing in the market amid the divergence of approaches to and measurement of impact in private equity and venture capital (via Pitchbook)
- Tune in on the 28th March for the UN PRI’s webinar, ‘A Legal Framework for Impact,’ covering a report by the same name with a presentation of key findings, legal analysis of European Union regulation and discussion of target areas for reform (via UN PRI)
- The UK and Scottish governments have stumped up £180M funding to mobilise innovative, low-carbon solutions for the North Sea. The Net Zero Technology Centre is currently running a £10M funding competition (via edie)
Portland-based Black Founders Matter has said it's now a $10 million fund for black founders, backing entrepreneurs with capital sorely missing in an ecosystem otherwise awash with dry powder. An industry-agnostic investor, Black Founders Matter has already backed ten companies like HUED, a woman-led startup tackling healthcare inequalities. The new fund’s target opportunities include tickets $100,000 plus for early-stage startups that are founded and led by black entrepreneurs, sourcing deals from a pipeline of university spinouts, accelerators and competitions.
Marceau Michel, Founder of Black Founders Matter:
“Black is the new vertical. The entire emphasis of our fund is about creating accessible venture capital for Black entrepreneurs and diverse innovative problem solvers.”
More at ImpactAlpha
- Climate fintech heats up with sector specialist CommerzVentures, the German VC, launching a new €300M carbon offset-focused fund (via PYMNTS)
- France's Kyotherm, an investment company renewable heat production finance, raised €45M in late-stage venture in a round led by Bpifrance and Andera Partners (via Dealroom)
- London-based impact investor Elbow Beach Capital announced a £20M vehicle focused on decarbonisation, sustainable energy and social impact opportunities (via BusinessWire)
- Antler closed a $13.5M East Africa-focused fund for its Nairobi-based Antler East Africa office (via Venture Capital Journal)
That was quick - what’d we miss? Ping us at email@example.com with updates.
Founded by Peony Li in London, the healthtech Jude has announced a £2 million fundraise, claiming its the biggest-ever pre-seed round for a solo-woman founder in the UK. The lead investor, Samos VC was joined by others, including household names, backing Jude’s groundbreaking bladder care and mission to break down taboos. With products currently in clinical testing, Jude is developing fully biodegradable and 100 per cent plant-based liners that have been co-designed with a community of 300 women.
“Bladder issues, incontinence and leaking is a severely understudied and stigmatised space. Jude has created a fresh new brand to change this with access to education, treatment and management. We’re proud to back purpose-driven founders who are not afraid to call out the challenges faced by underserved communities, buidling new brands and health solutions that genuinely improve lives.”
More at Tech Funding News
Growth, strategic and corporate
- Libra Group makes strategic investment in GreenMet, formerly known as Greentech Minerals, cleantech for the supply chain of rare earth minerals (Conviction News)
- Smart home tech startup Ome has secured a strategic investment from Legendary Ventures (via Private Equity Wire)
- Heavy-hitter TPG Rise Climate invests in a Monarch Bioenergy JV, expanding its renewables push to curb methane emissions (via BusinessWire)
- Germany’s Volocopter VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) startup announced a $170M Series E, led by WP Investment (via Dealroom)
- The UK’s Starship raised $100M within one month, according to the company, for its robotic delivery tech (via The Spoon’s former Editor-In-Chief, Chris Albrecht’s new outfit OttOmate)
- Norway-based smart energy provider Tibber badda-bing-badda-boomed a $100M Series C led by the PE Summa Equity (via Tech.eu)
- On its mission to decarbonise shipping, Nautilus Labs secured a $34M Series B led by Microsoft’s venture fund M12 (via ImpactAlpha)
- The Swedish biotech Mycorena raised $26.8M for its mycelium protein innovation, claiming the biggest-ever Series A for a Nordic startup in alternative proteins (via AgFunderNews)
- Who’s you, Satellite Vu (we saw what you did there, Sifted) announced $21M for thermal imagery satellites to track emissions (via Sifted)
- The women's health solutions company Wildflower Health raised $26M in a late venture round led by TT Capital Partners (via Dealroom)
- Diamond Age announced $8M, following a $50M Series A for 3D printing in construction, led by Prime Movers Lab (via TechCrunch)
- Clean Crop Technologies announced a $6M Series A co-led by MassMutual Catalyst Fund, ReGen Ventures and Trailhead Capital (via ImpactAlpha)
- The Welsh, Aberystwyth-based AI-enabled agtech Agxio closed a £2.1M pre-Series A (Conviction News)
- UK-based Miralis Data has secured £1.7M million in seed funding for its flagship product Fuuse for clean transport (follow Conviction News for more next week)
- MeliBio closed a sweet seed round for bee-less honey led by Astanor Ventures, that’s contributing an opinion at Conviction soon! Watch this space (via Green Queen)
- Dutch startup Source.ag secured $10M for the development of its greenhouse software (Silicon Canals)
- London’s procuretech Contingent secured $8.2M, led by Octopus Ventures (via Tech Funding News)
- The Jakarta-based agricultural marketplace AgriAku raised $6M million to ‘democratize farmer access to inputs’ (via AgFunderNews)
- London-based sustainability martech Provenance secured $5M, co-led by Working Capital Innovation Fund and Nordic Eye (via Tech Funding News)
- The climate tech startup, Cambium Carbon announced a $3.2M seed round for its ‘carbon smart’ wood (via Venture Capital Journal)
- The cellular agtech Unami Meats announced $2.4M for its seafood products, with CULT Food Science among the investors (Umami Meats)
- Circular economy startup Re was backed by the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) challenge (via Green Queen)