A new VC fund, 2150, is launching with the first close of a €200 million ($240 million) fund which will back technologies aimed largely at reducing the carbon footprint of cities. For example, startups that inject carbon into concrete, or monitor the energy of buildings. The final close is anticipated by mid-2021.
The advisory board for 2150 includes the former chief sustainability officer in the Obama administration, as well as renowned urbanist and academic, Richard Florida. 2150 is based around the idea that half of the world’s population lives in cities, and this will increase to two-thirds by 2050, creating a growing environmental impact that the world can ill-afford, given the climate crisis.
Based across London, Copenhagen and Berlin, the fund’s limited partners include a mix of institutional capital and family offices, including Chr. Augustinus Fabrikker, Denmark’s Green Future Fund and Novo Holdings. 2150 says it has other LP partners who are building or managing "over 16 million square meters of real estate", who will come in handy, kicking the tires on the efficacy of 2150 investments. The anchor funding has come from NREP, a sustainable real estate fund manager with a large Northern European footprint and platform.
The founding partners include Mikkel Bülow-Lehnsby, chairman and co-founder of large real estate logistics company NREP; Jacob Bro, former chief product officer at Rocket Internet; Christian Jølck, the founder and former chairman of industry climate advocacy group SYNERGI; Christian Hernandez, former Facebook executive and VC; Nicole LeBlanc, formerly with Alphabet’s urban product incubator Sidewalk Labs; Rahul Parekh, founder of VC-backed food tech startup EatFirst and former executive director at Goldman Sachs; and Alexandra Perez, who incubated and launched urban tech startups at Tech City Ventures.
2150 will focus on startups that can make cities more resilient, efficient and sustainable, investing in tech associated with the urban environment, materials, automation and sensor-based monitoring to improve the health, safety and productivity of building occupants. It says it will only invest where sustainability impact can be measured, aiming for a first portfolio of around 20 companies. Ticket sizes will be €4-5 million Series A for startups, but it will also invest in existing companies that want to expand.
Its first investment is in CarbonCure Technologies -- a Canadian company lowering the CO2 footprint of concrete -- in which 2150 participated in a funding round last year, investing alongside Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, Bill Gates-backed Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund. At present, concrete accounts for 8% of all global CO2 emissions
Speaking to TechCrunch, Hernandez said 2150 was particularly interested in what’s coming to be known as “ESG Analytics” or “Carbon Accounting”. In other words, platforms that can analyze the impact of developments for an ESG and CO2 perspective.
The other background data which inspired the creation of the fund includes the fact that two billion new homes will need to be built over the next 80 years; cities consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for more than 70% of global CO2 emissions; 13% of global GDP is spent on construction, but the industry is slow to adopt new technology; and the UN has said ground-breaking innovation is needed in cities, where the battle for sustainable development will be "won or lost".
Mikkel Bülow-Lehnsby, partner at 2150 and chairman and co-founder of NREP, said: “With NREP we have been on a 15-year mission of making real estate and cities more efficient, customer-centric and sustainable. With 2150 we are leveraging all of NREP's learnings and ambitions and partnering with our industry peers to identify and accelerate technology that can help us support our purpose of making real estate better. I am convinced that 2150's mission-aligned team will play an important role in designing a future in which the convergence of entrepreneurship, technology and sustainability will reverse the built environment’s negative impact on the planet.”
Christian Hernandez, Partner at 2150, said: “Cities are complex living systems that are constantly expanding, evolving and adapting, with half the world’s population now living in urban environments and rising. Cities, while vehicles for the betterment of humanity, currently emit 70% of the world’s greenhouse gases and generate the vast majority of the planet's waste. We see a huge opportunity to make a serious impact on the way cities are developed and the way our citizens live, work and are cared for by completely reimagining and reshaping the urban environment for good.”
The advisory board for 2150 includes technologists, scientists and designers, including well-known architect Bjarke Ingels; the director of Princeton’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, Dr. Lynn Loo; Unity’s head of AI, Danny Lange; the former chief sustainability officer in the Obama Administration, Christine Harada; and the founder of sustainable developer EDGE Technologies, Coen van Oostrom.