Investing in Climate Tech Innovation

January 25, 2023

Learning about the effects of climate change and the role we all play to mitigate its impacts has become a global priority. The conversation around human impact on climate change has been ongoing for several decades. However, the emerging tools designed to battle carbon emissions may be a newer concept for many of us. This new generation of technology, known as climate tech, is proving to be our greatest hope of saving the planet. For Lisa Coca, Climate Fund Partner at Toyota Ventures, these topics have been her priority long before they were considered political buzzwords . The Toyota Ventures Climate Fund invests in early-stage startup companies that are creating scalable solutions to drive innovation in carbon neutrality.

Coca is experienced in the venture and innovation space. She developed a passion for making a real impact to fight climate change. Joining Toyota Ventures’ Climate Fund was the perfect fit. In this position, she was able to assemble an amazing team of professionals with great backgrounds and a passion for tackling climate change issues.

As a financial-first venture capitalist, Coca’s team is looking for a 10X return with a 10X impact on climate and finances. The ultimate goal is to invest in companies that will significantly change the status quo in the climate landscape.  Finding startups to invest in isn’t always a simple task. They must have a tech product that is a game changing solution but must also have technology and finances. The startup needs domain experience, earned wisdom, and should stand out from the crowd. The teams they are searching for share the same passion and are open to guidance in business development, product, fundraising, marketing, executive coaching, and other areas.

One of their portfolio companies is Air Company, which was founded in 2017. Air Company transforms carbon dioxide into impurity-free alcohols that can be used to create a variety of goods. Their goal is to combat climate change by transforming captured atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) into carbon-negative alcohols to displace fossil fuels at-scale. Air Company’s technology has the potential to not only recycle carbon waste that would otherwise pollute the atmosphere, but to also create new products that have a reduced carbon footprint. Air Company has focused on unlocking the potential of ethanol-based consumer products such as Air Vodka, the world’s first carbon-negative spirit;, a CO2-based hand sanitizer, Air Spray;, and even Air Eau de Parfum, a fragrance inspired by the vital elements of air, water, and sun.

Air Company’s process starts by taking green hydrogen and CO2 captured from a point source and feeding it into the company’s Carbon Conversion Reactor. Renewable electricity is used to power its patented reactor, which breaks apart the inputs and reforms them into impurity-free alcohols with O2 and H2O as the only by-products. Long-term, Air Company’s mission is to slow climate change by becoming the leader in CO2 utilization for the commercial production of ethanol and sustainable fuels.

Another recent addition to Toyota Ventures’ portfolio is e-Zinc, which was founded in 2012. e-Zinc has developed a solution to enable long-term energy storage using the electrochemical potential of zinc metal. At scale, e-Zinc provides low-cost energy storage capacity for longer duration applications. Toyota Ventures is excited to invest in e-Zinc because the company has successfully developed a storage system that leverages zinc as an energy carrier and enables cost-effective scaling of storage beyond 12 hours, a paradigm shift for the energy storage sector.

Climate tech is a push for actionable climate solutions. Whether Air Company, e-Zinc, or any of the other early-stage startup companies Coca’s team has selected for investment, each is developing cutting-edge innovation, have clear goals, and are purposed for tackling and ultimately solving climate change issues. Coca’s team treats the startups as customers first and supports them at every step of their journey, while giving them the freedom and flexibility they need to experiment and grow their businesses on their terms.

The Toyota Venture Climate Fund is investing in this new generation of cutting-edge technology because it is dedicated to finding the solutions urgently needed to mitigate the consequences of climate change and to build resilient communities.

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