The future has never looked so bright or innovative! At last week’s VERGE 22, GreenBiz Group hosted its annual Accelerate, a series of fast-pitch competitions for climate tech startups within each of the conference programs: energy; transport; buildings; food; and carbon. Jake Mitchell, GreenBiz’s Startup Programs Manager, reminded the VERGE audience that up-and-coming "climate tech entrepreneurs play a pivotal role in bringing ingenuity and innovation to confronting the climate crisis."
During the first two days of the conference, 25 startups pitched their businesses to smaller crowds, with the finalists of each round sharing about their startup on the main-stage to the general audience of over 4,000 attendees this year.
Also, for the first time, GreenBiz awarded $5,000 to each company who made it to the final round, and $10,000 for the winner. Below is a roundup of the finalists:
Yotta Energy, presented by Andrew Tanner, vice president of strategy and growth, is a renewable energy startup based in Austin, Texas. The pitch effectively demonstrated Yotta’s purpose to reshape the energy systems of commercial buildings from dirty to renewable. Of the products available from Yotta, Tanner highlighted the SolarLEAF energy storage system that can store up to 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy along with the company’s Dual Power Inverter (the tech that converts the solar energy into usable power in the home) amongst others. Yotta Energy raised a total of $23.5 million in its Seed and Series A rounds, with the intention of opening for Series B funding soon.
The Buildings sector had so many incredible pitches that the first round ended in a tie, meaning that two startups within that category got to pitch for the final round.
Harvest Thermal is this year’s VERGE 22 Accelerate winner and the lucky startup that went home with $10,000. The pitch was presented by Jane Melia, co-founder and CEO. Harvest Thermal’s mission is to limit the carbon impact of buildings by streamlining heat pump and tank operations. Citing heating and hot water as two-thirds of home energy use, Harvest Thermal offers a heat pump, water tank and harvest pod that reduces emissions by over 90 percent when compared to gas and lowers energy costs by up to 45 percent. Melia proudly explained that the harvest pod uses technology to store energy that can be used at the most optimal times. Currently, Harvest Thermal is deploying in existing homes, but the company is expanding to new home projects.
Kaiterra, presented by CEO Liam Bates, is a startup focusing on indoor air purification. Citing that most HVAC software hasn’t been updated since 1985, Bates explained that Kaiterra’s operations reduce HVAC energy systems by 34 percent while also increasing the quality of air for the occupants. To achieve these numbers, Kaiterra places air quality sensors throughout the building, allowing its software to gather data, which the new HVAC system can then react and adjust to in real time. Kaiterra is already seeing success, as the company is cash flow positive and heavy hitters such as Google, Apple and Microsoft already use the HVAC system in their corporate buildings.
Moment Energy, presented by CEO and co-founder Edward Chiang, repurposes retired electric vehicle (EV) batteries into energy storage. The startup receives the EV batteries from partners Nissan and Mercedes-Benz and then modifies the tech to work in an energy storage capacity. Each unit, which can be used individually or connected to other energy storage units, can hold up to 60kWh worth of energy. Currently, Moment Energy has four paid pilots and one pre-commercial pilot in progress in Canada, and $3.5 million worth of projects in the works in both Canada and the United States. Moment Energy raised $4.8 million in seed funding and secured a $3.5 million grant from the Canadian government.
Ecotone Renewables, presented by CEO Dylan Lew, is a startup focused on sustainably processing food waste into organic fertilizer. Citing the global cost of food waste at $2.6 trillion and making up 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, Lew explained the benefit of Ecotone’s product, ZEUS. Designed specifically to fit into a shipping container, ZEUS can collect up to 10 tons of food waste a year, creating the end product of Ecotone’s Soil Sauce organic fertilizer. Currently, Ecotone has two ZEUS systems up and running in the Pittsburgh area. Ecotone is in its seed round, with a $2 million funding goal.
Climate Robotics, presented by CEO Jason Aramburu, is focused on creating biochar from agricultural waste. The tech, which brings the process of creating biochar directly to the field, can be attached to tractors to convert in-the-field waste to biochar on the spot, sequestering up to 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually, which breaks down to around 2-3 metric tons of CO2 per acre per year. By the end of 2022, Climate Robotics aims to build three field units, as well as secure a $20 million revenue pipeline. The startup is raising its Series A funding round.