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Sustainability

Carbon capture

The startups on an (e)mission to save the planet

Last updated: 5 May 2022

Market 101

Nothing quite divides environmentalists like carbon capture. While denounced by some as a distraction from reducing emissions, it’s touted by others as a necessity, with most people sitting in the latter camp in 2022. And interest is gathering pace. First came scientist backing in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, then the buying signals, when mega payments company Stripe teamed up with other US giants like Alphabet and Facebook parent Meta to commit $925m to carbon removal by 2030. Their message to cautious investors: There’s a market for this kind of wild bet.

And yet there are still huge hurdles to overcome. The most obvious one is scaling up the removal process so it has the potential to dent global emissions — and, in doing so, making it more price competitive, especially for industries that lack a clear pathway to decarbonisation. Then there’s the question of how to store or reuse the carbon once it’s been captured. With startups already working on both sides of the equation, the biggest risk is they achieve too little, too late.

Early stage market map

Early stage market map

Key facts

10bn

tonnes of CO2 that need to be removed annually by 2050 to meet UN goals1

$100/t CO2

price target for carbon capture to succeed at scale (with big players like Zurichbased Climeworks currently at $500-600/t CO2)2

0.25%

of global GDP needed in funding over the next three decades to remove enough carbon to limit warming to 1.5C3

Startups tracked by Sifted

Sifted take

There have been cases where, thanks to economies of scale, the cost of environmental technologies has fallen much faster than expected — think of solar PV or onshore wind, for example. But these technologies have had a long head start on carbon capture. The challenge for the sector will be not only to reduce costs dramatically, but to do so fast enough by 2050.

Rising stars

Carbo Culture

Carbon capture

Biochar

Total funding

€6.2m

Helsinki, Finland
2017

Turns waste biomass — which releases carbon as it degrades — into biochar, small pebbles storing carbon which can be used for soil, water filtration or biomaterials. The startup counts the likes of True Ventures and Cherry Ventures among its investors.

Round

Seed

Valuation

€28.2m


Date

Size

€5.6m

Mission Zero Technologies

Carbon capture

Direct air capture

Total funding

€8.9

London, United Kingdom
2020

Is developing technology for direct air capture based on electrochemistry, with the potential to significantly reduce energy demand and associated costs.

Round

Seed


Date

2022

Size

€4.3m

Made of air GmbH

Carbon-to-value

Materials

Total funding

€5m

Berlin, Germany
2016

Is developing thermoplastics that are carbon negative — meaning they store more CO2 than they release — from biochar. The resulting material can be used in sectors such as construction, furniture and transportation.

Round

Seed


Date

2021

Size

€5m

Early stage startups to watch

44.01

London, United Kingdom
2020
Seed

4.5m

4.5m

-

Arkeon Bio

Vienna, Austria
2021
Seed

6.5m

6.5m

25m

Carbfix

Reykjavík, Iceland
2006
Grant

-

-

-

Carbo Culture

Helsinki, Finland
2017
Seed

6.2m

5.6m

28.2m

Carbofex Oy

Tampere, Finland
2016
Seed

2.5m

1.4m

10m

Carbominer

Kiev, Ukraine
2019
Seed

-

-

-

Carbon Instead

Berlin, Germany
2020
Grant

-

-

-

Carbon Kapture

Poole, United Kingdom
2020
Pre-seed

600k

350k

1m

Cquestr8

Durham, United Kingdom
2020
Seed

270k

270k

-

Made of air GmbH

Berlin, Germany
2016
Seed

5m

5m

-

Mission Zero Technologies

London, United Kingdom
2020
Seed

8.9m

4.3m

-

neustark

Berne, Switzerland
2019
Seed

1m

1m

-

Ocean Rainforest

Kaldbak, Denmark
2007
Seed

1.4m

1.4m

-

Parallel Carbon

Ingatestone, United Kingdom
2021
Pre-seed

175k

175k

-

Phycobloom

London, United Kingdom
2019
Pre-seed

400k

400k

2.6m

Seabound

London, United Kingdom
2021
Seed

4.3m

4.2m

-

Seafields

London, United Kingdom
2021
Pre-seed

1.2m

737k

5.9m

Soletair Power

Lappeenranta, Finland
2016
Seed

1.5m

1.5m

-

Europe’s success stories

Who early stage startups are up against

(Pre-)Seed

SeriesA

SeriesB

SeriesC

SeriesD+

IPO/Exit

→ Recovers carbon from organic waste, and turns it into products such as green gas and fertilisers

→ Has expanded from Europe to the US and is eyeing Asia next

(Pre-)Seed

SeriesA

SeriesB

SeriesC

SeriesD+

IPO/Exit

→ Helps industrial facilities capture their emissions by providing modular carbon capture units

→ Claims to have captured 1.4m tonnes of CO2 across 44 facilities globally

(Pre-)Seed

SeriesA

SeriesB

SeriesC

SeriesD+

IPO/Exit

→ Operates the world’s first and largest plant for direct air capture and storage, converting CO2 from the air into stones

→ Aims to capture 1% of global emissions by 2025

Sources

Research reports

Direct Air Capture December 2021 | Third Derivative

News articles

1 April 2022 has been a great month for the carbon capture industry April 2022 | QZ

Three Approaches to Ocean CDR April 2022 | Third Derivative

Carbon Removal Startups: Scaling Up to Turn Down the Heat April 2022 | Viva Technology

3 Carbon dioxide will have to be removed from air to achieve 1.5C, says report March 2022 | The Guardian

From pollutant to product: the companies making stuff from CO2 December 2021 | The Guardian

2 Can carbon-capture startups make it big with small-scale tech? October 2021 | Canary Media

Carbon capture is all the rage. Can these startups make it profitable? March 2021 | PitchBook

How are Europe's startups capturing carbon? February 2021 | Sifted

The Air Mining Rush of Carbon Capture January 2021 | Climate Tech VC

Carbon to value: Not your mother’s carbon capture November 2020 | Climate Tech VC

Data sources

Sifted.eu Proprietary data

Dealroom.co Data

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