Just one year ago, in November 2022, we launched our Climate Fellowship Program, an initiative designed to contribute to the emergence of a new generation of entrepreneurs in Climate Tech across Europe. Since then, a lot has happened…
The Climate Fellowship Program’s inception revolved around a clear goal: empowering entrepreneurs with both financial support and expert guidance, enabling them to transform their visionary ideas into impactful startups. With the program’s launch, we aimed to accelerate the creation of new startups and equip founders with the key factors they need to build successful and ambitious businesses.To achieve this, we relied on the valuable support and input from our partners, Techstars and Energy Impact Partners.
To be honest, we were pleasantly surprised by the extraordinary response to our call for applications – over 150 candidates applied over the first few weeks! Equally remarkable was the diversity of the projects submitted, ranging from hydrogen energy solutions and carbon finance, to the decarbonization of transport, energy storage innovations, or verticalized carbon monitoring, among others.
This wide array of ideas not only reflected the growing climate tech sector in Europe but also demonstrated the various approaches entrepreneurs are taking to tackle environmental challenges. Selecting just a few of them for our program was particularly challenging.
Over the past year, we have been thrilled to engage the entire XAnge team in this pioneering project. In collaboration with our partners, we crafted a tailored program for the fellows, aimed at accelerating their pre-seed phase. This included coaching and mentoring by experienced investors, providing the entrepreneurs with essential insights and support for navigating the complex landscape of startup creation, as well as connections to our extensive network.
The program helped the fellows sharpen their startup’s value proposition, boost their visibility in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and, crucially, to position them for successfully raising their first round of seed funding. Spoiler: all our fellows have reached this milestone!
Meanwhile, The Climate Fellowship has allowed us to delve deeper into very early-stage companies, a shift from our usual focus of Seed and Series A. This involvement in the earlier stages of startup development has enabled us to contribute more significantly to shaping the future of climate tech startups from their inception. It also has significantly expanded our knowledge of the climate tech landscape and helped us forge meaningful connections in this ecosystem.
Above all, this journey has been an extraordinary opportunity to meet and collaborate with incredibly talented individuals. Drawing on this rich experience, we are now eager to develop new types of programs, focusing on specific verticals.
One year after the launch of the program, we are delighted to see our first fellow, Sirona, coming out of stealth and publicly announcing their pre-seed round. Based in Belgium and founded by a former Tesla engineer, this promising startup is at the forefront of tackling a critical environmental challenge: removing CO2 from the air using direct air capture technology. In just eight months, they have already reached their third design iteration, with the capacity to capture 1kg of CO2 per day. And this is just the beginning…
More than ever, at XAnge, we believe VCs have a pivotal role to play in allocating capital to sustainable innovation. We aim to do exactly this through the funds we manage, by implementing initiatives such as The Climate Fellowship Program and by leveraging our recent B Corp certification.