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Landscape of climate tech

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By Diane Cozian

· 4 min read

Mapping the 4 Pillars of Climate Tech with 130+ Startups (early-stage with recent / ongoing fundraising)

Hello from San Francisco, Climate Tribe! I’m Diane, ex-M&A investment banker on my journey to break into Venture Capital (VC) Climate Tech. Eager to “learn by doing”, I decided to leverage my connector skills to build my own network within climate and create my deal sourcing. Since the beginning of 2021:

  • I’ve been on 400+ zoom calls (with startups and VCs) / online webinars / in-real-life events
  • I’ve joined 20+ networking platforms related to Climate Tech: fellowships, Slack groups, webinars, newsletters, startup lists, etc. (see bottom of the market map below)
  • I’ve met with 20+ VCs and 130+ startups focused on Climate Tech
  • I’m in ongoing dialogue with climate investors through monthly startup updates

To better understand “who” is investing in “what” in climate tech, I created Market Maps compiling the portfolios of 20+ VCs, showing 400+ VC-backed startups and categorizing them within the 4 Pillars of Climate Tech (recap of all market map images at the end of this post):

I. Food & Agriculture

II. Energy Transition

III. Mobility & Urbanization

IV. Sustainable Systems

After the fantastic inbounds from VCs and startups on these market maps (30,000+ views and 100+ inbounds on LinkedIn!), I am now ready to conclude this chapter: one Market Map summarizing all 130+ startups that I’ve met so far in all 4 Pillars of Climate Tech. In a nutshell: a big picture of my work throughout this crazy year of 2021 😉

1. How I created the map

First, I got SUPER-active on 20+ climate tech networking platforms, cold-emailed some founders, got warmly introduced to many others, which led me to meet with 130+ startups presenting the following profile:

  • Source: Insightful 1:1 zoom calls with founders / C-suite
  • Sector: Climate Tech (Food & Agriculture, Energy Transition, Mobility & Urbanization, Sustainable Systems)
  • Geography: global
  • Technology: software; hardware; deeptech / hardtech (concept defined in my previous LinkedIn post)
  • Stage: early-stage (pre-seed, seed, Series A)

Then, I mapped the 4 Pillars of Climate Tech (each including 5 categories) with these 130+ startups… and voila! ;D

2. Result: the map

Market Map of Climate Tech: 130+ startups (early-stage with recent / ongoing fundraising)


3. Metrics and insights

Taking a further step back on the above map, I used the 3 following lenses to bring further insights on my group of startups:


  • By Sector: I strived to cover all 4 Pillars of Climate Tech (and not only the most investable one: Energy), as I truly believe that we need “all hands on deck” - meaning all sectors - to make a real dent in climate change. All companies can and should become climate companies!
  • By Geography: I met most startups in the US, with a fair amount in California. As I live in San Francisco, I’m immersed in a tremendous innovation ecosystem comprised of founders with PhDs from Stanford and UC Berkeley, accelerators / incubators in the Silicon Valley, investors in the Bay Area… and an (oh-so-inspiring) optimistic mindset!
  • By Technology: I decided to cover all technologies (software, hardware, deeptech) in order to get a holistic view of “Climate Tech”. I am firmly convinced that deeptech would enable the most impactful startups to restore the planet (by reducing our current emissions and also capturing the CO2 already in the air – important part of the warming issue).

Climate Tech could be considered the most exciting treasure hunt of our time: searching for the most disruptive startups who can have a massive impact on the environment and solve the biggest issue of our world today – climate change. In my journey, I was able to find 130+ fascinating startups and introduce 20% of these “gems” to VCs with confirmed interest, fingers crossed for the best outcome!

Energy Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Energy & Sustainability writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

Recap with deep-dive Market Maps of the 4 Pillars of Climate Tech (mostly early-stage and VC-backed):

1. Food & Agriculture


2. Energy Transition


3. Mobility & Urbanization


4. Sustainable Systems


illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Energy & Sustainability writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

Diane Cozian is a Frenchy in San Francisco, ex-M&A investment banker and a fellow at On Deck Climate Tech. she recently published insights on the 130+ climate tech startups she's met so far, as well as deep-dive Market Maps in Food & Ag/ Energy Transition/ Mobility & Urbanization / Sustainable Systems.

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