The 2022 SOSV Climate Tech 100
“SOSV has been deeply committed to climate tech for over a decade. We find and fund pre-seed startups that are inventing a better future. The human race isn't called a race because we're standing still – we're in a hurry and we can do it; and because we can do it, we must do it.”
— Closing address of Sean O’Sullivan, SOSV Managing Partner, at the SOSV Climate Tech Summit 2022 (video)
Welcome to the second annual SOSV Climate Tech 100.
We decided to make the list an annual event because it provides a useful, cross-program window into SOSV’s commitment to planetary health - part of the firm’s core mission - and at the same time offers a barometer for climate tech valuations and investments. As we detail below, the valuations as well as capital invested in the 100 soared in the past year.
We hope the SOSV Climate Tech 100’s progress encourages more venture capitalists to join in supporting startups that aim to make a difference in humanity’s future. And we hope that the bold examples of the 100’s founders will encourage new climate tech innovators to step forward.
Just yesterday, one of the most outstanding founders in any portfolio, Upside Food’s Dr. Uma Valeti, announced a $400 million series C raise, which officially makes the leader in cultured meat a unicorn. Dr. Valeti and Upside started at SOSV’s IndieBio accelerator in San Francisco just seven years ago with the then outlandish idea that we could have real meat for the table without animal slaughter or the climate degrading impact of animal agriculture.
The effort to bring the earth’s climate under control will take many more like Uma Valeti. Founders, please get in touch with the teams at HAX (Shenzhen and Newark, NJ) and IndieBio (NYC and SF). (Note: SOSV initially invests only in pre-seed and seed companies that join our programs.)
Investors, please reach us here.
The 100: 2021 vs 2022
We added 19 new companies and retired the same number. The changes reflect exits and other changes in company status, as well as the success of new companies emerging from our programs. We provide brief descriptions of the new companies below; for more information of the 81 returnees, find more details here.
The total valuation of the 100 doubled, reaching more than $11 billion. That leap in valuation is due to the rapid growth of returning startups, not the new additions. The number of unicorns jumped from two (Formlabs, GetAround) to five ( Perfect Day, NotCo, Upside Foods). Those five represent more than 10% of the climate unicorn count globally.
The total funding in the 100 also doubled to reach $3.8 billion. SOSV’s capital deployed, which starts at pre-seed and continues in later rounds, grew 55% to reach $138 million.
60 companies were at the seed stage, 26 at series A(+), and 14 at a growth stage (which generally corresponded to raising dozens or hundreds of millions). 71 of the 100 raised funding within the past 12 months.
The climate category is very broad, and SOSV’s portfolio covers the spectrum, though with some pronounced strengths. Food (51) and manufacturing (25) remain our most active categories, followed by transport (9), energy (8), building systems (4) and circular economy (3). This latter category is typically less ‘deep tech’ than other startups we fund but earned their spot thanks to their potential impact in reducing waste, especially in emerging markets.
Here is the breakdown of the percentage of companies funded by category and by program:
Climate Tech 100 Additions
SOSV’s IndieBio is a leader in food tech, and alternative protein company VelozBio is one of the new additions. Important to note, the category includes solutions to increase yield for farmers (ClimateCrop, Puna Bio), water production using hydropanels (Drip AI, from our HAX program), plant-based pet food (Bramble), seaweed/algae food products (Sea & Believe). There is also novel bioreactor (STAMM), a high-yield growth medium (Cellcrine), and plant-based myoglobin for umami flavor in plant-based meat (Kyomei).
This category covers biomanufacturing as well, and all three new entrants this year come from our IndieBio program: biopesticides (Pyrone Systems), protein-based sunscreens (Soliome), and seashell and mushroom based leather (TomTex). Our past forays in leather include MycoWorks and Bucha Bio.
Energy is usually the domain of HAX, our hard tech program, with a maintenance robot for solar fields and more (Swap Robotics) and sustainable biofuel (xFuel). We also have a fuel-cell-based carbon-neutral generator solution for vehicles (Solid Ox Motors) from IndieBio.
SOSV has had a few acquisitions in this category (Jump Bikes, acquired by Uber, and PushMe, acquired by Tier). New entrants are a product that makes trucks more aerodynamic (Aeromutable) and the first self-balancing e-scooters (Striemo).
♻️ Circular Economy
Founders and Investors
Most of the startups on the 100 had 2 or 3 founders, 7% had 4 founders, and 11% had solo founders. 42% had at least one PhD among its co-founders (only 13% had a co-founder with an MBA), and 38% were led or co-founded by at least one woman. Female founders accounted for 23% of the 235 founders).
The startups hailed from 19 countries including Japan, Kenya and Indonesia. With 63 companies, the US was the location of choice for their HQ, followed by Singapore (7), Canada (5), then the UK and Mexico with 3 companies each. It has to be noted that some companies might have started in one country and relocated their HQ later on (notably to the US).
Climate tech investment is booming. According to TechCrunch, around 1,400 investors deployed more than $40 billion across 600+ deals in 2021, more than doubling from the year before. This number included $23.2 billion from corporate VCs up from a previous high of $12.9 billion in 2018 (source: WSJ and Pitchbook data). The venture data company Pitchbook has ranked SOSV the #1 investor in climate tech since 2018.
We counted 255 investors who have co-invested $1M or more with us in our top 100, up from 167 in 2021 (+53%). The top 10 investors represented 51% of funds invested, while the top 100 represented 87.5%.
The top 10 investors by aggregate funding in alphabetical order are Abu Dhabi Growth Fund, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Future Positive, Hanwha International, Horizons Ventures, Kaszek Ventures, SK Group, SoftBank, Temasek, Tiger Global.
139 investors backed two or more startups in our top 100, and 16 investors funded four or more startups (up from 7 in 2021). They included Blue Horizon, CPT Capital, EF, Fifty Years, Hemisphere Ventures, Horizons Ventures, Alumni Ventures, Draper Associates, Marinya Capital, Hanwha International, Humboldt Fund, Asymmetry Ventures, and the US government’s SBIR and STTR Programs.
SOSV has two core missions - human (SOSV Human Health 100) and planetary health. We made our first climate investments 15 years ago, and it’s clear we have a long way to go.
As an early stage, deep tech investor seeding 100+ new startups each year, SOSV knows how to get great founders off to a fast start so they can get to market and raise venture-backing. The expert staff and mentors in our well equipped facilities work side-by-side with our founders every day in the months-long programs and then for years afterward on fund-raising. The key to our climate mission is our founders’ success.
That’s why New York state partnered with SOSV in a $25 million project to open a second IndieBio facility in New York city and the state of New Jersey backed with SOSV in a separate $25 million program to launch a second HAX facility in Newark, NJ. The combination of those programs and their proximity offer deep tech founders an unprecedented opportunity to address an unprecedented threat to our future. (And just to be clear, so do our original IndieBio office in SF and HAX facility in Shenzhen.)
If you are an investor who would like to know more about SOSV or investing in our portfolio companies, please contact us here.
And if you are interested in working for climate tech companies, please consider joining our SOSV talent network.
The climate challenge is unprecedented. We need everyone on deck to win this one.