The devastating impacts of climate change are all around us, but the news isn’t all doom and gloom. Recognizing the role investors play in bringing about positive change, as well as the potential outsize returns that come with solving global challenges, VCs around the world, including Connecticut Innovations, are stepping up their investments in climate tech. Through its newest investment vehicle, the $100 million ClimateTech Fund, CI is backing promising new companies as well as other VCs that are working to solve critical challenges like pollution, soaring energy prices, and diminishing natural resources.
Managed by Konstantine Drakonakis, P.E., an entrepreneur and venture partner who focuses on climate and adaption technology, the fund will invest anywhere from $250,000 to $5 million in a wide range of companies. Its goal: to advance green technology and green jobs, and to support Governor Lamont’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Drakonakis is particularly interested in technologies that address the circular economy, electric vehicles, advanced materials, and mobility apps. Fuel cells, which he says have applications for long-haul trucking, are also a target, as are technologies related to hydrogen, waste and sustainability, and energy and water.
Drakonakis said he’s proud of the way the state has rallied around this newest sustainability initiative. “We’ve joined forces with our sister agencies to create a strong syndicate,” he said. “Together with the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Connecticut Green Bank, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Labor, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, we’re building a pipeline of interesting companies that are a good fit for the state, in terms of them thriving here based on their needs, having a market primed for their products or services, and the programs that the agencies are promoting as their part of the climate-change solutions strategy.”
The ClimateTech Fund is not this state’s first foray into sustainability. Connecticut established the nation’s first green bank and ranks fifth in the nation for fuel cell patents. It also has a growing clean energy sector with a large employment footprint. “Connecticut is a special place,” said Drakonakis. “One of our many advantages is that we’re a one-phone-call state. We have leading academic institutions, high-caliber materials sciences engineers and public health experts, and an industrial military manufacturing base of companies with the assets and expertise to partner with and help build and commercialize climate and clean technologies. We can get answers quickly and have become highly efficient in helping companies grow and scale.”