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An inspiring and sobering New York Climate Week

Underscores the overriding urgency for all climate entre­pre­neurs to COMMERCIALIZE

I’m coming off an exciting few days at New York’s Climate Week. The amplitude of the gathering is quickly increasing, and it’s starting to feel like the J.P. Morgan Healthcare of climate. The mood of the week was at times optimistic, urgent, terrifying. We were glad to co-host a brilliant event along with our friends at Activate called Demo Hall: Hard Tech Solutions to the Climate Crisis.” The many early-stage climate entre­pre­neurs we met were impressive.

A big takeaway from the week is captured in the image above: we think commer­cial­iza­tion is the name of the game for climate entre­pre­neurs. I keep thinking about what Dr. Evelyn Wang, Director of ARPA‑E, said on stage at our event: People call it the Series B valley of death. I prefer to think of it as the mountain of opportunity.” 

This is music to our ears at DCVC, because that is exactly the segment of the market that DCVC Climate is attacking, and it’s where we think we can offer differ­en­ti­ated help. We like to see technical risk largely retired, and we think this is the most exciting time in our climate startups’ journeys, as they race to commer­cialize. In terms of technical risk, that’s the bread and butter of our flagship and Bio families of funds, where we invest early and link arms with entre­pre­neurs to help retire technical risk. By contrast, for climate-centric companies, the commer­cial­iza­tion is the key step.

When we dig in with the leaders of these companies, we ask questions like, How soon is too soon to start having commercial conver­sa­tions?” and, Where does the techno-economic assessment fit into the process — and how rigorously is it being applied?”

Here’s a sneak peek at our Q3 newsletter. It was a banner quarter for our companies in terms of commercialization:

  • Fervo broke ground on the world’s largest next-gen geothermal project in Utah (400 MW), as it continues to lead an ambitious effort to unlock the vast potential of geothermal as a vital source of renewable power;
  • Weeks after raising its Series B, CH4 Global announced the industry’s first ever commercial deal with multi­na­tional Lotte to mitigate enteric methane emissions from up to 4 million cattle in South Korea;
  • Oklo gained further commercial traction for its fast nuclear reactor technology, signing a landmark MOU with Centrus Energy and earning a Notice of Intent to Award contract from the U.S. Air Force for siting its 4th reactor;
  • Amogy announced a massive expansion to Houston, where it will manufacture ammonia-based power solutions, and; 
  • Pano AI’s life-saving technology is helping first responders fight our increasing number of wildfires.

None of these things came easily. They were results achieved by teams who, as we like to say, dream without illusion.” And they’re what count. In climate-focused entre­pre­neur­ship, we are what we commercialize.

Zachary Bogue is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of DCVC.

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