Navigating the Climate Tech Inflection Point: Insights from VERGE 23 Keynote Session

At the forefront of climate tech discussions, VERGE 23 recently hosted a pivotal keynote session, delving into the inflection point that climate technology currently finds itself in. The session featured insights from Mike Schroepfer, Partner at Gigascale Capital, and Sophie Purdom, Managing Partner at Planeteer Capital, as they discussed the opportunities and challenges for innovators in the climate tech space.

The Inflection Point for Climate Tech

The conversation underscored the urgency of the decisions made today in shaping the speed and scale of the transition to a cleaner economy. Mike Schroepfer, former CTO of Meta and founder of the non-profit Carbon Toc Initiative, emphasized the need for collaboration and strategic partnerships to drive the implementation of new climate technologies.

Scaling Climate Technologies: The Collaborative Approach

Scaling new climate technologies involves navigating challenges such as stakeholder engagement, partnerships, and funding. Mike Schroepfer drew parallels from his experience, highlighting the imperative for collaborations to be mutually beneficial. These collaborations should present a win-win scenario for both businesses and startups, ensuring that each party gains value from the partnership.

Sophie Purdom, with her extensive background as a startup founder and venture capitalist, emphasized the exponential growth in climate tech activities. She noted a significant increase in deal activity over the past few years, showcasing the accelerating momentum in the sector.

Understanding Risks and Opportunities

The discussion then turned to how corporations should approach risks and opportunities when piloting new technologies. Sophie stressed that startups are eager to collaborate with corporations, offering innovative solutions that align with environmental goals. She emphasized that there is a robust ecosystem ready to support the maturation of these businesses and facilitate partnerships.

Mike Schroepfer highlighted the importance of tangible results in the form of revenue. Successful pilots and partnerships, he noted, provide companies with a competitive advantage and attract investors. The ability to measure emissions, make automated adjustments, and showcase cost savings is a key driver for both startups and corporations.

The Climate Capital Stack: Unlocking Opportunities

Sophie introduced the concept of the “climate capital stack,” emphasizing the various layers of funding and support available to climate tech startups. This stack includes venture funding, corporate off-takers, non-dilutive funding, catalytic capital, grants, venture debt, and more. The key is understanding and navigating this complex ecosystem to unlock opportunities for both startups and corporations.

Success Stories and Lessons Learned

While specific details of success stories were limited due to the early stage of many deals, Mike Schroepfer cited examples such as Microsoft’s power purchase agreement with Helion, showcasing the potential of corporate collaborations in the climate tech space. Sophie shared an anecdote about an early-stage company measuring emissions in commercial settings, providing automated solutions that not only reduce emissions but also generate cost savings for building managers.

Looking Ahead: What to Prioritize

As VERGE 23 concluded, the speakers expressed their hopes for the future of the climate tech community. Mike Schroepfer envisioned a panel in the next year filled with success stories of corporations describing their impactful pilots with startups, showcasing how these collaborations are driving positive change. The emphasis was on deepening and widening the sophisticated capital stack and prioritizing partnerships that lead to tangible and sustainable results.

In summary, the VERGE 23 keynote session highlighted the pivotal role of collaboration, the need for a sophisticated capital stack, and the importance of real-world impact in steering the climate tech sector towards a prosperous and resilient future. The conversations at VERGE 23 provided valuable insights for all stakeholders committed to advancing climate technology solutions.

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