From decarbonising diesel engines to improving manufacturing processes, a cohort of five innovative startups have been selected to take part in Climate 10x – an accelerator program that injects roughly $140,000 into each climate tech and offers entrepreneurs the chance to connect with industry mentors.
Climate 10x was established five months ago as part of the $280 million Trailblazer for Recycling and Clean Energy (TraCE) collaboration between the government, industry, UNSW and the University of Newcastle.
A total of $580,000 was invested into the program’s startups. The vast majority of the funding, about $480,000, came from Virescent Ventures on behalf of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) while UNSW covered the remaining $100,000.
On top of receiving capital, founders also completed a 10-week accelerator program designed to bolster business growth, as well as help them access a network of mentors, industry specialists and potential investors.
Sydney-based DeCarice, which comprises UNSW engineers, has been modifying conventional diesel engines to use a mix of hydrogen and a small amount of diesel, allowing a 70 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide output.
Other startups that took part in the accelerator include manufacturing platform Workbenchx and SoNiA Green Technology, which was founded in 2022 to help turn waste plastics into bitumen modifiers.
Unlike the common liquid Polymer Modified Bitumen (PMB) – which consists of bitumen blended with a synthetic polymer or crumb rubber - SoNia products come in pellet form. The sustainable asphalt modifiers can be added straight into the hot aggregate at an asphalt plant.
“Climate change is the challenge and opportunity of our generation," says Virescent Venture partner Blair Pritchard.
"We need to find, fund and champion a diverse range of solutions to meet the scale and urgency of the problem. The transition to net zero emissions impacts every part of the economy. As a result, the investment opportunity is huge.
“For this inaugural program, we looked for startups that are solving big and difficult climate problems with the potential for significant emissions abatement in large markets. Given their early stage, we paid particular attention to the strength of the IP where relevant, and also to the quality of the founders.
“Diversity was also a key focus in our choices, and we’re pleased to see a high number of female and culturally diverse founders. We believe in a diversity of opinions and solutions, and wanted to create a cohort with complementary skills so they could learn from each other.”
The accelerator aims to support early-stage climate tech startups with innovations that significantly impact emissions reductions, or can improve the adaptability of existing infrastructure to allow for a faster transition to renewable energy.
The 2023 Climate 10x cohort comprises:
- SoNiA Green Tech which has discovered a novel way to manufacture polymer-modified bitumen to significantly reduce energy usage and incorporate waste plastic.
- WorkbenchX which links companies with manufacturing capability to those without, bringing down the cost of production for startups and manufacturers while enabling sovereign manufacturing.
- DeCarice which uses specialised hardware to decarbonise existing diesel engines to run on up to 90 per cent hydrogen, enabling a 70 per cent-plus reduction in carbon dioxide output.
- Powour which tracks, promotes and incentivises active transportation activities, reducing environmental impact and improving public health.
- Green Dynamics which uses AI to automate advanced materials research, speeding up research and production cycles.
“At UNSW Founders, we work with partners to provide better support for startups," says Climate10x program manager Eleni Assargiotis.
"Through our partnership with Virescent ventures, Climate 10x startups not only received access to funding, but more significantly, domain knowledge, commercial perspective and strategic vision of how each company can grow and scale.
“For the Climate program and UNSW, it's been important to us that we align on values and emissions reduction targets as well as a focus on hardware and research-led solutions.”
Over the last seven years, Virescent Ventures has pumped more than $211 million into 27-plus investment opportunities through the CEFC Innovation Fund.
“For Virescent Ventures, working with UNSW and 10x is an excellent opportunity to access a high calibre of climate and deep tech startups at an early stage pipeline, providing us more deal flow,” says Pritchard.
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