As we look back on 2021, we are grateful for the contributions from our DCVC team, the commitment of our investors, and the breakout successes we saw across our portfolio.
We are particularly proud of our portfolio companies working to mitigate the climate crisis. We made our first climate tech investment in 2012, and it continues to be an important focus for us. Deep Tech provides a lens and toolkit to find and help entrepreneurs who are tackling climate problems, with real line-of-sight to venture scale outcomes.
Throughout the past year, we continued to see entrepreneurs and investors join DCVC, demonstrating that Deep Tech can solve trillion-dollar global problems, making a positive impact on the world, while simultaneously generating enormous profits.
In 2021, we saw significant milestones for DCVC’s investment strategy and growth:
- It was a stellar year for value creation with over $5.8 billion in gross proceeds from 9 DCVC portfolio companies going public.
- We led 14 rounds in new or existing core investments in companies including Pivot Bio, BioPhero, CH4 Global, Kairos Aerospace, Plotlogic, and Reach Labs.
- 18 large follow-on rounds in high-performing companies such as Carbon Health, Mythic, Primer, Tala, and Twelve, which raised an aggregate of $1.5 billion.
- The addition of new Partners with extensive knowledge in fundamental life and computer sciences with successful track-records finding, funding, and growing breakthrough Deep Tech ventures: Jason Pontin and Dr. Eric Shiozaki, as well the addition of our first Marketing Partner, Wendy A.M. Yale, in our expanded commitment to providing brand narrative and company-building expertise for our portfolio.
Technical breakthroughs across the portfolio fuel our optimism for the future: from Brimstone’s novel ability to produce Portland cement without CO2; Agility Robotics’ robots engineered to work alongside people, in spaces built for people; Orca Bio’s seminal clinical trial results in treating blood cancers; Petra’s radically cheaper tunneling technology to put fire-prone utility infrastructure underground; to Totus’ drug development technology that designs covalent molecules to drug the undruggable, helping eliminate the era of untreatable diseases.
These are just a few examples of Deep Tech companies accelerating scientific and technological breakthroughs to enable a safer and healthier world, while making the benefits of capitalism more equitable. Here’s to the promise of another transformational year for our portfolio companies, our partners, and DCVC!
- Matt and Zack
In 2021, 9 DCVC Companies Celebrated Public Offerings with Over $5.8 Billion in Gross Proceeds.
A Few Highlights…
DCVC Private Companies Continued to Drive Deep Tech Innovation in 2021.
Mission: Our mission is to eliminate industrial greenhouse gas emissions by developing technologies to help industries transition faster to net-zero.
Cement is responsible for 8% of global emissions — but it doesn’t have to be
“Entrepreneurs have struggled for decades to develop cement formulas that sequester more CO2, or provide equal strength with less mass, or mix the ingredients of cement in less-polluting proportions,” says Zachary Bogue, co-founder, and managing partner of DCVC, which just invested in a seed round of funding for Brimstone along with Breakthrough Energy Ventures. “None of the alternatives worked very well: Sequestration captured just a fraction of the CO2, and messing with cement’s recipe worried regulators concerned with structural integrity.” Read the Full ‘Fast Company’ Article.
Mission: To detect disease early — when there is the highest potential for impact — by leveraging artificial intelligence and ultrasound. We are a team of best-in-class entrepreneurs, engineers, and clinicians who are committed to transforming care, expanding access, and reducing costs.
The Best Inventions of 2021. Sonograms Made Simpler
“You can’t send every single person to a cardiologist every year,” says Kilian Koepsell, Caption Health’s co-founder, and CTO. “But you can go to a regular checkup with your primary care physician, and with these technologies they can screen you much better than it was possible before.” Read the full ‘TIME’ Article.
Mission: To make micro-nuclear reactors use the spent fuel from conventional nuclear reactors to provide clean energy.
A New Generation of Nuclear Reactors Could Hold the Key to a Green Future
Fission isn’t for the faint of heart. Building a working reactor — even a very small one — requires precise and painstaking efforts of both engineering and paper pushing. Oklo plans to flip the switch on their first reactor around 2023, a mere decade after co-founding the company. After that, they want to do for neighborhood nukes what Tesla has done for electric cars: use a niche and expensive first version as a stepping-stone toward cheaper, bigger, higher-volume products. Read the Full ‘TIME’ Article
Mission: To make agricultural, climate, and economic data actionable. Food security and climate risk represent existential global-sized opportunities for our AI-powered decisions and insights platform.
The 100 Most Influential People of 2021: Sara Menker –
Misson: Petra’s mission is to protect life and property by changing the feasibility of undergrounding utilities. We want to make undergrounding possible and affordable in every region and for every community in the world.
This New Tech Cuts Through Rock Without Grinding Into It
A startup called Petra uses super-hot gas to penetrate bedrock. The method could make it cheaper to move utilities underground — and make electric lines safer. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” Goodfellow says. “There’s been talk about things like nuclear-powered tunnel-boring machines and contactless tunneling and stuff like that, but it’s just been talking prototypes. As far as I know, these are the first people that are trying to really, genuinely commercialize it.” Read the Full ‘WIRED’ Article.
Mission: To replace synthetic nitrogen fertilizer with a more sustainable and safer tool for farmers.
Pivot Bio, A Startup Using Microbes to Replace Synthetic Fertilizer
A startup born in the lab of University of California, Berkeley, is aiming to replace synthetic fertilizers that contribute to greenhouse gases and so-called ‘dead zones’ in the ocean. “Our pitch to growers today is, instead of spending a dollar on nitrogen fertilizer, spend a dollar on Pivot’s nitrogen,” said Karsten Temme, Pivot Bio’s co-founder and CEO about how their products are already cost competitive. Read the Full ‘Reuters’ Article.
Mission: To end the era of untreatable disease.
This Biotech Company Raised $40 Million
To Develop Treatments For ‘Undruggable’ Diseases
I’ve had the experience of losing a number of loved ones to specifically untreatable diseases,” says Totus Medicines CEO Neil Dhawan. “And I spent a lot of time in doctors’ offices growing up, where there was nothing more devastating than having a patient where there’s nothing you can do to actually help them.” It was this experience that led Dhawan, 33, to cofound Totus Medicines in 2019. Read the Full ‘Forbes’ Article.
Mission: We are a team of scientists, engineers, and problem-solvers on a mission to fundamentally shift the way the world addresses climate change and lead the transition to a fossil-free future with our carbon transformation technology.
Are Green Jet Fuels Finally Ready for Takeoff?
Twelve’s core technology is a suitcase-sized electrochemical reactor that uses a proprietary catalyst to transform CO2 into fuel using water and electricity. Their idea is to line up stacks of these reactors next to an airborne stream of carbon dioxide being emitted from cement, steel, or other industrial facilities, then turn it into hydrocarbon fuel. Read the Full ‘WIRED’ Article.
DCVC Deep Dive
Deep Tech is shaping climate change, life sciences, and industrial processes. Keep up with the latest innovations of our portfolio companies in our DCVC Blog. Here are some of our top posts from 2021…
Making carbon-negative portland cement
Helping non-specialists deliver echocardiograms in any setting
Zero-carbon energy from advanced nuclear fission
Providing actionable insights across agriculture, climate, and business
Lowering the cost of underground utility projects
Reprogramming soil microbes to produce nitrogen sustainably
Making the entire human genome druggable
A carbon-neutral way to produce green jet fuel and plastic