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Climate Tech: Carbon13

Climate tech: piecing the puzzle together

Carbon13: helping empower climate technologies to scale.

The climate tech space is really dynamic, a place where entrepreneurs can flourish. While there’s uncertainty, there’s also opportunity and an incredible scope for experimentation.

Dr Nicky Dee

CEO and Founder, Carbon13

Carbon13: venture builder for climate technology

Carbon13 believes that entrepreneurship will change the course of climate change. The venture builder is committed to identifying and supporting determined founders in their mission to develop scalable innovations that could ultimately help industries reduce carbon emissions.

Scalability is at the core of the business, and Dr Nicky Dee, CEO and Founder, argues there should be no limits to what can be achieved:

We’re looking for ventures that aren’t just going to have an impact in the UK or hit a subjective figure – we’re looking further afield, to Western Europe and North America, and materially reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Dr Nicky Dee

CEO and Founder, Carbon13

Investing in scalable climate ventures

Carbon13’s venture builder programme sources a pool of potential founders, both technical and commercial. Those who are recruited then enter a phased teaming approach with the end goal of pitching for pre-seed investment. Successful ventures then move into a traditional accelerator programme, which after three months culminates in a showcase.

Barclays Eagle Labs partners with Carbon13 in its launchpad programme, which runs alongside the venture builder and accelerator programmes, but works with pre-existing teams to help them to understand their carbon reduction potential and develop business fundamentals such as value proposition, go-to-market strategy and investment readiness.

Ambitious targets, determined entrepreneurs

Carbon13’s targets are ambitious: building ventures capable of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions by 10 million CO2e tonnes per year when at scale. “This is something that both our commercial and technical founders are exploring for their ventures,” explains Nicky.

Community: where the magic happens

People

Carbon13 believes that its approach to carbon starts with people and that leveraging the intelligence, intuition and ingenuity of entrepreneurs will help tackle climate issues. Corporates and startups working together can be a very difficult space, “but a place where magic can happen,” says Nicky.

Ecosystem

The ecosystem is key to helping entrepreneurs flourish in an environment that fosters opportunity amid uncertainty. Located in the climate tech cluster of Cambridge, Carbon13 provides a platform for knowledge exchange between startups and corporate partners. Nicky cites a popular analogy “As it would be helpful to bring up a child in a village – the same can be said for a startup but the climate tech village is still relatively young.”

Challenges and opportunities

The more traditional entrepreneurial challenges are also a factor in climate tech: our founders ask themselves “who is going to be interested in buying this technology, who will invest in it, and will my team be capable of delivering something viable and scalable?”

There is a degree of uncertainty and risk in the development of new cleantech and/or climate tech. “We’re trying to answer unanswerable questions,” explains Nicky. “For instance, we don't quite yet know what the right business model is to increase the adoption of heat pumps in homes.”

As we take steps towards net zero, we may need entrepreneurial experiments in every sector so we can better understand what works, how to make it affordable, and how technology and behaviour could interact to help deliver the right results.

Scope for innovation and collaboration

Barclays research found that:

76% of businesses plan to include cleantech and/or climate tech in their carbon reduction plan.
33% say availability of technology is a barrier to further investment.

That’s why an ecosystem of innovation and collaboration is important. Engaging at every stage of the journey empowers founders and their ideas to flourish; from helping build the core team to connecting with scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs.

Some 42% of cleantech and/or climate tech companies responded to our survey to say being located in a cleantech cluster region has helped increase productivity with, 41% saying it allowed for more collaboration and building partnerships.

Breaking certain stereotypes is important, explains Nicky. “Academia has argued that the ‘traits and fates’ approach to entrepreneurship is fundamentally flawed.” There are no widespread singular entrepreneurial archetypes that drive success and we need to consider multiple perspectives to drive innovation.

The advantages of the Carbon13 programme are not only are companies provided with multiple layers of support, offering those rapid insights on what mistakes could be avoided, participants also get access to Carbon13’s unique approach to evaluating impact and how to link a carbon proposition with a value proposition which requires connections with leading edge experts.

Carbon markets and standards, carbon boarder adjustment mechanisms, corporate greenhouse gas reporting, ESG criteria in finance, energy market regulations, insetting and environmental product declarations are just a subset of some of the dynamic issues Carbon13 discuss. And in a programme such as this, being amongst a group of equally committed founders provides an additional wealth of support and insights as well as motivation.

Exciting breakthroughs and future prospects

Carbon13 has worked with brilliant entrepreneurs – facing conundrums like how to tackle the housing crisis with limited living space, without consuming carbon – and invested in an array of viable solutions.

Working with Barclays Eagle Labs via its venture launchpad, Carbon13 continues to support teams seeking to raise their first round of investment.

Carbon13 has expanded its outreach into the European climate technology space. “It’s been good fun,” says Nicky, despite the understandable nervousness of venturing into a new market. There were more applicants in Berlin than in Cambridge on a particular cohort, generating some friendly rivalry between the two innovation hotspots – “a good problem to have”, highlights Nicky.

Working with Barclays

Working with Barclays elevates everything. We recently had a meeting in their Canary Wharf office, and we had this spectacular view out onto the built environment, while talking to entrepreneurs with pioneering solutions to decarbonising that built environment.

Dr Nicky Dee

CEO and Founder, Carbon13

The relationship between Barclays and Carbon13 is still relatively young, explains Nicky, “but we’ve been exposed to many different areas of the business already”. Engagement on both sides has been key to the success of the partnership.

“As we get to know each other better,” explains Nicky, “we are realising there's so much more that we can do… we share an excitement for climate tech and a commitment to getting these solutions to scale up and help accelerate the journey to net zero. We need optimists on this journey, and climate tech entrepreneurs epitomise that."

If you’d like to know more about how we could support you please contact our team.

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