Time is running out to move the needle on carbon emissions. According to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we’ll need to cut CO2 emissions by 43% by the end of this decade to keep warming within 1.5C.
That’s something that Terhi Vapola, founding partner of new Finnish VC firm Greencode Ventures, says a lot of venture capital investments fail to recognise.
“When you look at the VC ecosystem, we've seen a lot of European climate funds set up, but many of them are focusing on reduction potential by 2050,” she says. “Somebody ought to look at solutions, which we scale fast, so that we can work on the timeline that we have.”
Vapola is launching Greencode to do just that. It’s targeting solutions which it thinks can have an impact within the 10 year lifespan of the fund.
It has closed €40m and is targeting a final close of €60-100m. Its LPs include Business Finland Venture Capital, Nordea Life Assurance Finland, Pohjola Insurance, OP Life Assurance Company, other institutional investors from the Nordics and family offices.
The fund plans to write cheques up to €2m for seed and Series A rounds. It’ll back companies from Europe, with a particular focus on its home market, Finland.
The Greencode team and thesis
Vapola previously founded Helen Ventures — the VC arm of Finnish energy firm Helen — and Greencode’s other founding partner Kaisa Hietala is an environmental scientist who’s gained a reputation for transforming industrial companies into more sustainable businesses. She worked with Finnish energy giant Neste to build its sustainable aviation fuel business (more on that debate here).
Greencode’s focus is digital climate tech startups. “We look at capital light, fast scalable business models, which tend to be digital but they can sometimes have hardware elements,” says Vapola.
The fund is looking to back digital and software solutions which help to optimise green alternatives in four areas: energy, mobility, the built environment and industry.
That could be things like B2B SaaS products to help optimise existing renewable energy infrastructure in wind farms or solar parks, Vapola says, or AI applications for environmental monitoring around flood and fire risks.
Greencode’s first investment was into Supercritical, a carbon removal marketplace which secured a $13m Series A round in June this year.
Vapola says she’d particularly like to see pitches from companies working on biodiversity accounting technologies — similar to the carbon accounting cohort aiming to track companies’ emissions, but now focused on their biodiversity impact too.
Can digital businesses move the needle?
The extent to which software driven businesses can move the needle on climate change is an eternal debate in the climate tech world.
Many investors and climate activists are critical of “climate software” and argue that it is physical tech like fusion reactors, solar fields and wind turbines that we need.
There is, however, a growing consensus that climate hardware will need software to run it — things like software to connect energy assets or sensors to monitor output in industries.
It’s an area VCs are turning their attention to. Alongside Greencode, Dutch VC SET Ventures is another fund focused on software businesses that can interact with hardware to bring climate gains.