Based in Toronto, venture growth fund Climate Innovation Capital (CIC) invests in companies and entrepreneurs with climate solutions that have the potential to deliver the greatest amount of absolute carbon reductions in the shortest period of time while delivering superior financial returns. We spoke to Nelson Switzer, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, to learn more about how the firm is helping the economy to decarbonize.
Describe your firm’s core business. How is your organization contributing to a cleaner, greener future?
We find, fund, and grow “gigacorns,” climate solutions able to deliver over a gigaton of carbon reductions with an enterprise value in excess of a billion dollars. Put another way, we look for opportunities capable of delivering the maximum amount of decarbonization and the highest possible return at the quickest possible pace. That’s our mission and purpose.
We do this for two reasons. The first is to mitigate anthropogenic, or human-induced, emissions that are responsible for our rapidly changing climate. The second is to demonstrate to demonstrate to conventional capital that investing in the decarbonization of the economy, the transition, is more profitable than investing in the status quo. This will bring more capital to the climate challenge, create more jobs, more opportunity and quicken the pace of the transition.
Climate change is our primary focus. It is a threat multiplier – its impacts have consequences for food security, health, and poverty. Therefore, when we make our investment decisions, we also consider the ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Other than coffee, what gets you out of bed in the morning? How does this work connect with your core beliefs and values?
Climate change is a genuine crisis; it’s one of humanity’s biggest challenges. Our team at CIC is motivated by a sense of urgency that the climate challenge inspires in us all. We are also motivated by our genuine sense of optimism. We see solutions daily that have the potential to mitigate megatons of carbon, and from time to time, gigatons of carbon – and the fact that we have the opportunity to support innovators who have developed these solutions is deeply motivating. We wake up and choose to be people who solve problems, rather than contribute to them.
Tell us about a recent win (or wins) or your organization.
Generally, the growth of our pipeline has exceeded our expectations. There is so much opportunity to help grow companies that will make a difference – and create jobs and support the transition to an economy that is environmentally restorative, socially equitable and economically prosperous. In particular, our firm recently invested in Manifest Climate, which we think is an incredibly important platform for enabling change. Manifest is helping organizations understand their climate risk, articulate a strategy, and quicken the pace of decarbonization. Co-leading that deal and engaging with such an impactful technology has been a terrific opportunity.
What’s next for your organization?
We’ll continue our mission to find, fund, and grow gigacorns. We’re working on some collaborations with other investors and corporations, and we should have some exciting announcements to share in the months to come, including some new investments.
Finally, what’s on your team’s wish list for Ontario’s cleantech sector?
It’s great to see the investment the province is making in the EV transition – supercharging the EV-conomy. We think there are many other ways that Ontario can take a lead – for example, funding new academic programs to train people with the skills needed to enable the transition. There remains both a technical and professional skills gap in areas such as carbon accounting and analysis, environmental economics and sustainable finance as well as materials and energy management, new industrial processes and manufacturing. Of course, we could also be doing other things to support and speed up the pace of the transition, such as making adjustments through policies and regulations like the building code and de-risking investments. These types of things will also help Ontario secure its leadership and ability to create jobs and expand its export potential.
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