June 3, 2024

The climate techs with surging revenues

Europe has many pre-revenue climate hardware companies — they need to ensure there’s a customer base after the capital-intensive build stage

Freya Pratty

3 min read

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I write a lot about the European climate techs that are bringing in investor cash. But which business models are bringing in customer cash?

Europe has a lot of pre-revenue climate hardware companies which need to ensure there’s a customer base waiting at the end of the capital-intensive build stage. If there isn’t, there’s a risk that we’ll see a repeat of the cleantech bubble, a period of innovation from 2006 to 2013, where companies failed to develop sustainable business models.

Swiss startup Neustark seems to have found a way to make money. The startup, which produces a machine that pumps captured CO₂ into waste concrete from demolition sites, reported a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 271% across the past three financial years.


It’s the startup with the second fastest growing revenues in central Europe, according to the Sifted 30: Central Europe Leaderboard of 30 startups in the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary and Poland, published later today.

Neustark sells its machine to recycling plants, which use it to store CO₂ in demolition waste. The end product can be used to create recycled concrete or spread across roads under asphalt.

The company tells Sifted that roughly half of its revenue comes from selling the machines to recycling companies, which pay for the appliances upfront. Neustark then pays the recycling company for every tonne of CO₂ it stores in concrete.

The other half of Neustark’s revenue comes from selling carbon credits based on the amount of CO₂ the recycling companies store. It’s secured credit offtake agreements with companies like Microsoft and UBS, which pay $350-$500 per tonne of CO₂ stored, depending on the size and length of the contract.

“With the business model we have, we don't rely financially fully on credits, we also have the model of selling the tech,” says Sophie Dres, chief marketing officer at Neustark. “That's what is different and, honestly, what has attracted our investors.” Neustark has raised €1m in total and is raising a new round.

Funding carbon removal from credits alone is an increasingly scrutinised business model. “Relying solely on carbon credit returns in a business model can present challenges, with a higher inherent risk,” Tobias Seikel, GP at Planet A Ventures tells me. If the price of credits goes down, credit-issuing companies can see their margins tightened.

“Diversifying revenue streams while building a company, for example through technology or service sales, not only helps to mitigate the mentioned risk but also highlights the importance of adopting multifaceted approaches,” he says.

Other carbon removal companies diversifying away from credits include UK startup Mission Zero, which just received funding from Bill Gates. It sells carbon removal tech to companies, rather than selling credits.

One-fifth of the Sifted 30 are climate tech companies, including Czech startup Woltair, which saw its two-year revenue CAGR increase 244% up to 2023; it brought in €46.1m in 2023.

Woltair runs a digital platform that connects consumers who want to install a solar panel or a heat pump in their house with installers. In doing so, the company can capitalise off heat pump adoption without exposing itself to the capital intensity of installing them itself.


Any other innovative climate business models I should have on my radar? Email me here.

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Freya Pratty

Freya Pratty is a senior reporter at Sifted. She covers climate tech, writes our weekly Climate Tech newsletter and works on investigations. Follow her on X and LinkedIn