Recent Deals – 26 July 2023

Solar software to keep-up with solar hardware; cement alternatives; and geospatial analytics – Recent deals worth looking at:

Agriculture & Food

Aphea.Bio (2019), a VIB, Ghent University and KU Leuven spin-off, has designed next generation ‘biopesticides’ based on specialised microorganisms and microbes, to give the farming community an alternative to chemical pesticides. The company’s research includes developing ‘biostimulants’ to stimulate crop growth through various processes, such as promoting the uptake of nutrients from the soil. has closed a Series C round at $78M, bringing its total equity raised to just over $100M. The round was led by Innovation Industries, with participation from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Korys, SFPIM, BNP Paribas, ECBF Management, and Astanor Ventures. Further, announced its partnership with Gates Foundation to tailor the development of its biostimulant products with smallholder farmers in mind.

Gates Foundation will target these products towards priority regions of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Energy & Power

PVcase (2017), also known as PhotoVoltaic Computer Aided Solar Engineering, is solving critical data-risk challenges in the solar industry. The rapid growth of utility-scale solar energy has opened two new challenges: a) most of the industry’s supporting software, particularly in Europe, is in old formats including the ancient world of hard-copies; and b) exponential software and automation growth in this industry has made designers and engineers a scarce resource, with developers often using 70+ data sets which must be manually moved between software platforms.

These challenges are not exclusive to this sector, as new energy markets continue to grow exponentially without the necessary digitization to keep up with the pace of demand, and data risk is on its way to becoming an “industry-wide constraint” (David Trainavicius, 2023). PVcase is stepping in with its solar project design software which digitizes every stage in the design and operations process within a single platform.

PVcase has secured $100M in Series B funding to work on cutting costs and time savings through its one-stop solar design platform. The round follows PVcase’s acquisition of Anderson Optimization, a merger which included the data fields from both companies being seamlessly matched for easy data transfer. The acquisition has ventured into the European market (Germany, Spain, and UK), aiming to give European developers the chance to cut the timeframe for project design processes from 20 weeks to approximately 20 minutes through its platform.

Materials & Chemicals

Furno (2020) leverages oxyfuel combustion and a novel design to develop cement plants that are more adaptable, energy-efficient, less capital-intensive, and enable the production of zero-emission cement. The manufacturing and construction industry ranks 3rd against the world’s seven largest polluters at 6.3 million tons, and while developers have focused on advancing energy-use technologies for buildings to combat emissions, it is the construction materials that hold the biggest share of the building’s lifetime carbon footprint. Roughly 8% of global polluting gases is due to the most popular and second most-used commodity in the world, cement. Furno is decarbonising the cement industry by adapting the mini-mills strategy from the steel industry to cement, by developing small, efficient, and modular cement plants.

As it continues to develop its technology, Furno has secured $4M in equity disclosed through a SEC regulatory filing.

Resources & Environment

Sylvera (2020) has developed machine-learning-based tools to track the performance of carbon offsets, allowing companies and governments to invest in carbon credits and easily report on their impact. While there is a global recognition around net-zero targets and initiatives, the overall pace of action within the carbon offset market is lagging far behind what is necessary to reach 2050 goals.

For most companies, reaching these targets would require doubling the pace of emissions reduction by 2030, which in turn requires accurate data platforms to measure and benchmark progress against net-zero targets. This is where Sylvera’s intelligent carbon offset tracking platform shows up, using a range of carbon measurement methodologies and climate science to rate and benchmark different carbon capture, removal, or emissions avoidance projects. The platform organises the multitude of global carbon projects within a single accessible space and provides transparent views on carbon credits so that corporations, governments, and markets can confidently buy and scale their climate contributions.

Sylvera has pulled $57M in Series B funding to scale its technical capabilities, grow its engineering and product teams from 12 to 24 employees, and to further build its platform, including adding new data about carbon credits. The round was led by Balderton Capital with participation from Index Ventures, Insight Partners, Salesforce Ventures, Speedinvest, Seedcamp, LocalGlobe, Bain & Company, 9Yards Capital, and Fidelity International.

Transportation & Logistics

Farizon Auto (2016) is China’s pioneering electric and hybrid commercial vehicle manufacturer, established by Geely Holding Group. Farizon has consistently held the leading deal volume position in the Chinese new energy vehicle sector for 14 consecutive months, while winning the annual sales crown for two consecutive years. The company has a number of other firsts under its belt, and of course, we have the supporting statistics: its new energy light trucks increased sales by 38% year-on-year, holding a market share of 29% and ranking top position in sales for 18 months consecutively; its new energy logistics vehicles have a market share of 26% with an increase of 123.8% in deal volume year-on-year, and ranking first in sales for 15 months consecutively (PE Daily, 2023).  In short, it is not surprising that Farizon is expected to become the first new energy commercial vehicle brand to reach total sales of one million units within the next five years.

Farizon Auto has raised $600M in a recent Series A round co-led by Boyu Investment and Yuexiu Industrial Fund, with participation from United Clean Energy, Sichuan Linjiang Industrial Group, Yinshan Capital, Hunan Xiangtan Industrial Fund, Industry Foundation of Xiangtan, and Hidden Hill Capital.

This round is the largest single-round of financing in China’s new energy commercial vehicle sector, which will be poured into R&D advancements, ecosystem development, and its global expansion plans. Alongside the financing announcement, Farizon Auto released its initial Sustainable Development Report offering a look at the company’s progress towards reaching operational carbon neutrality by 2025 and full life-cycle carbon neutrality by 2030.

Enabling Technologies

Hawkeye 360 (2015) provides space-based radio frequency (RF) data and analytics capable of supporting applications across maritime, environmental monitoring, telecommunications, and national security industries. The company operates a fleet of 21 low-Earth orbit satellites that collect radio frequency emissions to detect, characterize, and geolocate signals for a suite of intelligence-based products.

Hawkeye 360 has confirmed the close of a $58M Series D round led by BlackRock, with participation from Manhattan Venture Partners, Insight Partners, NightDragon, Strategic Development Fund, Razor’s Edge Ventures, Alumni Ventures, and Adage Capital Partners. The fresh equity will go towards developing new space systems and expanding its range of analytics that support high-value defence missions.