Boston VC fund will invest $110m in start-ups tackling the climate crisis

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On Tuesday (15 October), Boston-based Clean Energy Ventures closed a fund worth $110m that will be used to invest in early-stage energy start-ups in the United States and Canada.

Clean Energy Ventures is comprised of seasoned operating executives with a strong interest in the energy and environmental sectors. The group seeks early-stage start-ups that have the potential to mitigate climate change and achieve attractive financial returns.

Led by Dan Goldman, Temple Fennell and David Miller, the VC fund is a spin-out of the Clean Energy Venture Group (CEVG), and has been investing alongside partners from CEVG as well as other venture capital firms and strategic investors across energy and related industries.

Goldman, Fennell and Miller have 40 years of combined investing experience at the seed and early stages. Between them, they have invested in more than 30 early-stage advanced energy companies over the years.

In a statement, Goldman said: “After more than a decade of investing in the advanced energy sector, it’s been gratifying that this first fund, which is focused on investments that address climate risks, what significantly oversubscribed.

“It’s really indicative not only of investors’ appetite for innovation in these sectors, but also of the new normal in which this kind of funding is possible without compromising return on investment.”

Investments made to date

Clean Energy Ventures has made a number of investments across areas including smart grid sensors, software and residential and industrial energy efficiency.

According to Crunchbase, the group led Energy Sage’s Series A funding round in May 2015, which was worth $1.5m. Energy Sage is an online marketplace for products relating to solar energy.

Clean Energy Ventures also led Pika’s $2.25m funding round in Februrary 2016, before the solar power electronics business was acquired by Generac Power Systems.

The VC group believes it is unique in its goal to invest in early-stage energy entrepreneurs.

Goldman said: “We’ll continue to focus on early stage advanced energy entrepreneurs with disruptive hardware and materials technology solutions and capital-light business models that have the potential to massively scale.

“That thesis continues to generate extraordinary interest for co-investment and acquisition by an increasingly broad array of energy and industrial sector incumbents seeking new business opportunities and low-carbon solutions to their operations.”

Goldman continued: “Our intention is to take significant steps towards realising our ultimate goal of growing companies to scale and having a material impact on greenhouse gas emissions.”

According to Axios, the fund was initially only supposed to be $75m, but significant investor interest brought the final figure to $110m.

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