Earth Tech caters to early-stage ventures, supporting them in advancing their technologies, businesses, and environmental impact. In a company’s infancy, before first customers, investors, and measurable results, it can be tricky to measure success. But given the importance – and difficulty – of cleantech innovation, we need to recognize and celebrate early wins! We spoke to four Earth Tech 2022 participants to see what they consider to be their biggest achievements this year, how our accelerator helped them get there, and what’s next for their growing startups.
Haze Automotive measures their impact potential and pivots to a new business model
Haze Automotive is using material tech from race cars and new manufacturing techniques to help automakers scale their electric vehicle programs at 90% less cost. One of their biggest wins during Earth Tech was to measure the potential environmental impact of their carbon fibre-based EV frame. (Bonus: Sean recently spoke with our partners at Foresight Canada on Cleantech Forward, give it a listen!)
Sean Mario Hazaray, Co-Founder and CEO of Haze, acknowledged that they didn’t have a good grasp of carbon fibre’s environmental impact when Earth Tech raised it in the interview process. “Through Earth Tech’s mentorship, we turned a weakness into a strength,” Sean said. “The program’s focus on sustainability workshops helped us better understand that carbon fibre can drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Most importantly, carbon fibre leverages a fraction of water usage during the manufacturing process compared to its closest substitute, aluminum.”
Haze Automotive predicts that automotive companies will soon begin to value sustainability as much as reliability and performance. “During conversations with a major European automaker, we were encouraged by their new emphasis on sustainability,” Sean said. “This has certainly validated our belief that sustainability will be as just as important as 0-60 acceleration time in the upcoming years.”
Fueled by this positive reinforcement, Haze is doubling down on their product’s environmental benefits by conducting a detailed lifecycle analysis and prioritizing sustainability throughout the supply chain. “By better understanding the framework of impact reporting, Earth Tech has given us the tools to be competitive in this new age of sustainability-focused businesses,” Sean said.
Pulsenics adds jobs and doubles client contracts
Pulsenics aims to make electrochemical systems more reliable and economical by diagnosing issues and improving performance without disrupting systems. By making these energy-intensive systems more efficient, Pulsenics’ solution lowers emissions and makes electrification more attractive to the transportation and manufacturing industries.
Mariam Awara, COO of Pulsenics, considers adding three full time jobs, doubling pipeline value and client contracts, and quantifying the greenhouse gas impact of their technology to be some of their greatest achievements so far.
They found that Pulsenics’ product and service enables 30% faster development cycles to manufacturers of electrochemical technologies and a 14% increase in energy efficiency to operators. “If scaled for green hydrogen production alone, Pulsenics has the potential to abate over 800 million tonnes of CO2 annually by 2040,” Mariam said.
The mentorship, community, and connections that Pulsenics gained through Earth Tech were important to their success. “Our Earth Tech mentor Helen Platis was instrumental in supporting strategic decisions for sales growth, as well as helping us shape our story and pitch deck,” Mariam said. “The Earth Tech team also made sure to introduce us to opportunities for funding, like the SDTC Seed Fund grant that we were awarded.”
So far, Pulsenics has been building a ‘Default Alive’ company, a startup that’s on track to profitability with its current resources. “We’re proud that, to date, Pulsenics has been able to commercialize its own novel technology and to achieve significant market traction in a very capital-light way,” Mariam added.
To fuel further growth and unlock the next stage of commercialization, Pulsenics plans to prioritize strategic partnerships. They’ll also streamline operations, especially for ramping up manufacturing and quality assurance.
Enertel AI goes from basic prototype to fully functional AI engine
Enertel AI is using artificial intelligence to make renewable energy companies the most competitive participants in wholesale power markets. During the Earth Tech program, they rapidly advanced their technology product, achieving an astounding increase of six (of nine total!) Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs).
Chris Gervais, Co-Founder and CEO of Enertel AI, shared how their team has been transforming an idea into a viable technology. “We’re trying to help renewable energy companies predict and prepare for spikes in power prices so that they can better compete against incumbent fossil fuel generators,” Chris said. “When we joined Earth Tech we had a basic prototype, but that was about it.”
From there, Enertel AI built out a successful pilot demonstration and showed that a single forecasting engine could solve several different timeseries tasks. Operationalizing this at scale required additional subcomponents, but it eventually culminated in the launch of a fully functional AI engine capable of creating high-performance energy forecasting models in a matter of minutes, no code required.
Chris considers Earth Tech’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs) to be a highlight of the program. His EIR, Trevor Coleman, pushed his team to explore what makes their customers tick and was a great mediator when they were faced with difficult decisions. “I’ll always remember Trevor’s advice that if you can’t decide between two options, do them both – otherwise you’ll spend twice as long choosing between them,” Chris said.
Enertel AI recently closed their first round of Angel investment, and their immediate plans are to expand the capabilities of their forecasting engine. They’re also exploring other opportunities where AI can play a critical role in large-scale power markets.
Solaires raises nearly $6m and closes their pre-seed round
Solaires Entreprises Inc. is making renewable energy more accessible by developing efficient, flexible solar technology that uses perovskite instead of silicon. Between September 2021 and July 2022, they raised nearly $6m.
Ernest Daddey, CDO of Solaires, credited Earth Tech for helping with networking opportunities, exposure to investors, and knowledge about building a data room and preparing for due diligence.
“Solaires’ major achievement during Earth Tech was being able to close our pre-seed round,” Ernest said. “We opened it in September of 2021 and closed it in June of 2022. We were able to raise $980,089 (with an additional $250,000 committed) from different angel investors and angel investor groups.”
Solaires will use most of those funds to purchase material and equipment to scale up sales of their Solar InkTM, a product that allows the fabrication of perovskite film with high stability and energy conservation efficiency.
In light of their financial wins, Solaires also plans to hire new talent to scale up their ink production and commercialization, rent and equip a laboratory, and work with partners to bring a new perovskite-based photovoltaic product to market as soon as possible. Additionally, they’ll build on their funding success with a bridge round followed by a seed round in Q1 2023.
Earth Tech celebrates success in all its forms
While it’s difficult to measure success early on as a cleantech startup, it’s so important to celebrate wins and build momentum! We’d like to congratulate all our 2022 ventures on their continued hard work and accomplishments, and thank the Earth Tech staff and fantastic Entrepreneurs-in-Residence – Rick Findlay, Claire Dixon, Helen Platis, and Trevor Coleman – who helped along the way.
We look forward to helping even more impact-focused ventures succeed in the coming years.
Earth Tech is led by Climate Ventures, an initiative of SI Canada and Foresight Canada. It’s made possible through the generous support of the RBC Foundation, the Peter Gilgan Foundation, and Bullfrog Power. Contact us if you’re interested in learning more or partnering with us: firstname.lastname@example.org