CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug. 28, 2018 - PRIME Coalition, a 501(c)(3) public charity funding tech start-ups that fight climate change, announced the closing of three new investments. The investee companies – Opus 12 in Berkeley, CA; Mallinda in Denver, CO; and Lilac Solutions in Oakland, CA – are each developing transformational technologies that could meaningfully reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
"With these investments, PRIME has now funded nine start-up companies through 11 financing rounds mobilizing more than $17 million in philanthropic capital," said Matthew Nordan, Chairman of the Investment Committee at PRIME Coalition. "Fifty-six foundations, philanthropists, and impact investors have backed PRIME and our portfolio companies. On one hand our unique model of investing for social impact is showing growth and momentum; on the other hand, we're barely scratching the surface of what philanthropic capital can do."
PRIME chooses its investments based on the advice of its investment committee, comprising the U.S.'s most active institutional venture investors in climate and energy. Investee companies are assessed for climate impact potential, suitability for philanthropic capital, and attractiveness to follow-on investors after early risks are retired. The three new investee companies were selected through a rigorous process in which PRIME reviewed more than 2,200 early-stage, climate-impacting start-ups. They are:
- Opus 12, which recycles CO2 into cost-competitive chemicals and fuels. Founders Nicholas Flanders, Kendra Kuhl, and Etosha Cave are developing devices that electrocatalytically turn CO2 and renewable electricity into high-value products traditionally made from fossil fuels. Opus 12's process, which has been likened to "reverse combustion" and packs the CO2-reducing power of 37,000 trees in the size of a suitcase, grew out of research conducted by Kuhl and Cave in the Jaramillo Group at Stanford University.
- Mallinda, which is developing circularly recyclable composite materials that enable unprecedented manufacturing efficiencies. CTO Philip Taynton developed Mallinda's core technology at University of Colorado Boulder and paired up with CEO Chris Kaffer to bring it to market. Mallinda's technology could greatly reduce the weight of automobiles by replacing steel with lightweight advanced composite materials, without sacrificing strength and safety – slashing fuel requirements and their accompanying emissions.
- Lilac Solutions, a mining technology company that opens up new reserves of lithium for electric vehicles and energy storage while making the supply chain more environmentally friendly. Today most lithium comes from open pit mines in Australia and sprawling evaporation ponds in South America; Lilac's ion exchange technology enables lithium to be economically extracted from abundant brines around the world which aren't cost-competitive today. Founder/CEO Dave Snydacker developed Lilac's technology at Northwestern University.
PRIME Coalition participants included the Dale and Laura Kutnick Foundation, Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, S.I. Newhouse Foundation, Sustainable Grant Making Partners, and multiple anonymous individuals, co-investing alongside Dolby Ventures, StartX, One World, and members of Investors' Circle. "We believe that social impact and financial returns can be mutually reinforcing, and that early-stage companies focused on climate change need our support," said Toren Kutnick, Vice President of the Dale and Laura Kutnick Foundation, which backed Mallinda via a recoverable grant. "PRIME shortens the path between our philanthropic investment dollars and high-impact start-ups."
About PRIME Coalition:
PRIME Coalition is a 501(c)(3) public charity based in Cambridge, MA that partners with philanthropists to place charitable capital into market-based solutions to climate change. Learn more at primecoalition.org.
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