• Elemental Navigator

    Curated access to climate technology for corporations, investors and industry partners

What we’re looking to fund in Cohort 10

March 9, 2021

· 7 min read
Ian Chipman Editorial Director

While the climate crisis reveals new challenges with each passing day, our optimism has never been greater. As the climate-tech ecosystem enters a high growth phase, we remain committed to supporting entrepreneurs who are wired to redesign how we live, move, work, and play.

With a policy landscape shifting at every level, a new workforce taking shape, a chorus of youth raising their voices, corporate commitments going mainstream, and capital flowing at unprecedented levels, there’s simply never been a better time to be an entrepreneur focused on climate solutions. And that will be even more true tomorrow, because while the challenges are daunting the opportunities for innovation are immense. Saving the planet, improving the lives of billions of people, and driving financial returns are now in alignment.

For Cohort 10, we’re looking for 15-20 startups from anywhere in the world focused on addressing key challenges in energy, mobility, agriculture, water, or the circular economy. Our program is built to support later-stage companies than other accelerators to enable greater commercial expansion and growth.

What types of solutions are we looking for?

While we are not targeting specific technologies, we do have themes that shape our investments in each sector, and that evolve in relationship to the market, our growing portfolio, and the pressing needs of the communities in which we work. The lists below are non-exhaustive, but we hope will inspire everyone involved in fighting climate change and social inequities to apply or send their favorite companies our way.

We work with companies across five critical sectors that underpin our economy. In each of these areas, we are especially interested in solutions that create good quality, local jobs for people. And since these systems do not exist in a vacuum, we’re also on the lookout for technologies and business models that solve key problems that touch multiple sectors.

What are we looking for in WATER?

Water sits at the center of every ecosystem in the world, and our water systems are encountering such severe threats that a quarter of humanity faces looming water crises. From dwindling water availability to increased flooding, sanitation challenges, and emerging contaminants, the United Nations states that “water is the primary medium through which we will feel the effects of climate change.” Our goal is to ensure clean drinking water and sustainability of water use in the face of these mounting threats.

Where can we make the most immediate impact?

  • Water reuse, resource recovery, and the ability to treat emerging contaminants
  • Addressing the access and affordability gap heightened though the exposure to COVID-19
  • Encouraging the adoption of innovation in this sector through unique business models and approaches

We are particularly interested in innovations around:

  • Technologies at the nexus of water: agriculture, energy, circular economy
  • Digital and financial solutions
  • Systems enabling water reuse and resource recovery
  • Solutions for emerging contaminants and contaminants-of-concern (ex. PFAS and PFOA, pharmaceuticals, micro-plastics)
  • Stormwater management and flood resiliency solutions
  • Decentralized treatment including industrial treatment applications
  • Process optimization technologies
  • Infrastructure management

What are we looking for in MOBILITY?

With the transportation sector accounting for 28% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, redesigning how people and goods move, whether across cities or around the world, is one of the most attractive and varied opportunities for innovation. Our focus is on designing mobility systems that are both 100% clean and equitable.

Where can we make the most immediate impact?

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from air and water transportation
  • Addressing barriers to scaling commercial electric fleets
  • Expanding affordable, appealing, and reliable mobility options for those most in need, including people with disabilities, seniors, transit-dependent and residents of frontline communities.
  • Improving data insights on roadway usage and safety

We are particularly interested in innovations around:

  • Increased convenience, appeal, and access to electric transportation
  • Technologies that unlock new revenue models for cities
  • Reduced emissions in heavy freight, shipping, logistics, and air travel
  • Data insights to improve cities’ operational efficiency, including infrastructure design, management, and maintenance
  • Enhanced roadway infrastructure safety, resiliency, and disaster planning

What are we looking for in FOOD & AGRICULTURE?

Agricultural production accounts for 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and food waste is responsible for about 8% of annual emissions worldwide. But just as food production and consumption are key drivers of climate change, creating a regenerative food system can help us sequester carbon in soil and create healthier waterways and ecosystems.

Where can we make the most immediate impact?

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with agricultural production, distribution, and waste
  • Enabling decentralized production, supply chain efficiency and traceability
  • Increasing access to economically viable technology solutions for farmers and healthy, local food options for frontline communities

We are particularly interested in innovations around:

  • Soil health and carbon sequestration technologies
  • Alternative protein, dairy, and feed
  • Indoor agriculture – greenhouse, vertical, and modular systems
  • Traceability, logistics & transport, processing, and shelf life extension technologies
  • Aquaculture – particularly seaweed and algae solutions
  • Reducing energy, fertilizers, pesticides, and water use in agriculture

What are we looking for in ENERGY?

Renewables have made remarkable advances in recent years, and are now cheaper than fossil fuels for 85% of global power generation. Still, despite a short-term fall in emissions as a result of the pandemic, 2020 tied 2016 as the warmest year on record and atmospheric CO2 levels continued to rise. We remain committed to creating a 100% clean energy system in the fastest possible timeframe.

Where can we make the most immediate impact?

  • Improving energy resiliency
  • Integrating climate technology into legacy systems
  • Driving down the cost of climate technologies

We are particularly interested in innovations around:

  • Fintech
  • Hydrogen
  • HVAC
  • Energy technology at the nexus of other sectors including health
  • Robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning
  • Asset management tools that easily integrate with and optimize current systems
  • Manufacturing, commercial, and industrial energy solutions
  • Democratization of energy
  • Electrification of everything
  • Cybersecurity

What are we looking for in the CIRCULAR ECONOMY?

The circular economy is a broad umbrella — covering everything from carbon capture and utilization to innovative reuse models — but driving it all is the idea that we need to abandon the linear, extractive model and reconceptualize how we treat resources. We’re focused on designing out waste and pollution and keeping materials in use to tackle the 45% of emissions that come from how we make and use things like cement, plastics, steel, aluminum, and food.

Where can we make the most immediate impact?

  • Improving data collection, measurement and transparency across the supply chain
  • Promoting the adoption of recovery, reuse and remanufacturing models
  • Eliminating pollution in frontline communities and creating local job opportunities

We are particularly interested in innovations around:

  • Carbon capture, utilization and storage
  • Green materials, chemicals and packaging
  • Supply chain transparency, responsible sourcing and data collection
  • Waste to value solutions
  • Resource recovery and reuse
  • Manufacturing startups interested in ‘Equity In’ projects to establish diverse hiring, inclusion and retention, and responsible supply chain practices

Key information on Elemental’s application process:

  • Deadline:
    • Early-bird: March 24, 2021 @ 5:00 pm PT
    • Applications close: April 16, 2021 @ 5:00 pm PT
  • Funding: $200,000 – $500,000
  • Geography: Startups can be from anywhere in the world, relocation is not required, and convenings will be remote
  • Minimum requirements: Two full time employees, an operating prototype, an independent for-profit venture operating in the Climate Tech space (energy, agriculture, water, mobility, circular economy, and beyond)
  • Equity & Access: All companies will make a commitment to Equity & Access principles and utilize the Field Guide developed by Elemental
  • What we’re looking for: Strong teams with differentiated technology, with the promise to scale and make positive social and environmental impact

For more information, see our applicant resources or tune in to one of our upcoming Q&A sessions.

Otherwise, apply or refer your favorite company to be part of Cohort 10 today!