There’s many ways to approach the challenge of climate change, and funding the new technologies that have the potential to re-engineer our economy, has a huge potential for impact.
EnergyLab is a not-for-profit organisation that unites climate-tech startups with angel investors, while also providing an accelerator program to help them build skills and engage with a network of experienced investors and founders.
The accelerator has just announced the latest cohort of companies that they will be working with. It’s a high-impact list of mission-led businesses that are contributing to Australia’s reputation as a climate-tech heavyweight.
OnImpact spoke with EnergyLab CEO, Megan Fisher, about the huge impact potential of climate tech, the challenge of accessing funding, and Australia’s place in the global startup ecosystem.
It’s bigger than Clean-Tech; it’s Climate-Tech
EnergyLab was founded in 2017, and in the early days the focus was on clean energy, which includes renewables technologies and electrification of transport. The sector hadn’t looked much past those foundational opportunities.
But today, EnergyLab recognises that the enormity of the climate challenge requires innovation across a much broader set of industries.
The organisation is focussed on Climate-Tech, which still encompasses clean energy, but it also supports startups in the built environment space, in agriculture, as well as finance and software industries.
To support these businesses, EnergyLab runs an accelerator program, while at the same time partnering with impact investment fund, Impact Ventures.
EnergyLab is a non-profit organisation, and they don’t take equity from startups. Instead, they’re a hub for identifying high-impact startups, and then helping them grow.
“We’re here to help founders with business models that are all about decarbonisation, to grow and scale.” says CEO Megan Fisher.
“We partner with angel investors and that are part of the Impact Venture fund, for the Climate Solutions Accelerator. EnergyLab encourages applications from all over the world and runs a rigorous selection process to find the best founders and startups for the program, ultimately its the group of angel investors that decide on each years cohort”
The Latest Cohort of Climate-Solutions Startups
The team have recently announced the latest cohort for their Climate Solutions Accelerator, and it’s an impressive list.
“This cohort is founding world-leading innovation in climate technology from revolutionising air conditioning to developing more environmentally sustainable batteries.” Megan says.
“The Climate Solutions Accelerator will help ensure these startups get the support, expertise and connections they need to take these incredible solutions global.”
Allegro Energy have invented a new, patented, water-based electrolyte system that makes many battery types not only much cheaper, but also environmentally friendly and compatible with a circular economy.
Acacia Money is a financial technology business that is reshaping financial services so that people and our planet can access a better future through simpler, smarter and more sustainable money management.
Conry Tech is reinventing air-conditioning to improve and decarbonise comfort in the urban environment.
EcoJoule Energy specialises in the design and manufacture of revolutionary, sustainable, technology solutions for the electricity grid.
Economical Energy is developing a scalable, cost effective, long duration energy storage solution for renewable energy integration.
Farmbot provides remote monitoring solutions that take the guesswork out of measuring and analysing water.
NRN (National Renewable Network) is a connected network of solar and battery storage systems, enabling households and businesses to switch to renewable energy without any upfront cost of finance, whilst also saving on their energy bill.
Raaise joins the Climate Solutions Accelerator with a mission closely aligned to EnergyLab’s own – helping the founders of startups. Raaise is the platform powering climate startups in search of value-aligned capital, allowing founders to take control of their raise through smart workflows and expert guides, dramatically reducing the time and resources typically required to close a round.
Solstice AI applies state-of-the-art artificial intelligence techniques to satellite imagery to identify solar panels and accurately forecast solar power generation across whole suburbs.
ValAi is a startup building the tools industry needs today so they can meet the sustainable finance demands of society tomorrow. Their product, Greenhouse, identifies a home’s sustainability and energy efficiency rating and provides tailored advice to help homeowners reduce their carbon footprint.
The Australian Advantage
It’s no coincidence that such a high-impact group of climate-tech startups would originate from Australia.
While we do produce a large portion of the world’s fossil fuels, we also have a power grid that is operating with a rapidly growing proportion of renewables, and that’s driven growth in a whole range of satellite products and service offerings.
And as Megan explains, this Australian advantage goes both ways, with offshore tech developers seeing opportunities in operating in Australia.
“There’s also lots of interest in international startups coming to Australia, because it’s an incredible test case, because we’ve got this grid that’s so saturated with renewables, they want to come here too.” Megan says.
“One of our past alumni is an organisation called Infravision. They’ve been through both of our programmes, and they’ve recently had an incredibly successful trip to the US, and they’re getting ready to announce some amazing contracts.”
While there has been growth, its not enough to combat the mammoth challenge of climate change.
We need more support from governments to help fledgling startup founders to commercialise their ideas. And from there, investors will have an opportunity to help them grow.
“We keep hearing this hopeful mantra about Australia becoming a ‘Clean Energy Superpower’, but to get there, we need to do a whole lot more work.” Megan says.
As inflation fears mount, valuations of high-profile tech startups have seen severe write-downs from lofty valuations seen in the past two years.
But so far, climate-tech firms managed to maintain capital flows, and according to Megan, this has a lot to do with the tough environment that climate-tech developers have faced in their years.
“The bar has always been higher around clean energy and climate technology. The business models are more difficult, the technology is harder and that means the founders in the space have always had it tougher.” Megan says.
“They faced bigger hurdles to get investors interested, and now, I think that’s paid dividends, it’s holding them in good stead right now.”