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Climate Adaptation - Survey (2 of 3)

Updated: May 14

OVERVIEW In March 2024, Mazarine Ventures, a Chicago-based VC, conducted the 2nd in a series of 3 surveys on Climate Adaptation, polling 100+ VC, PE, Corporate VC, and angel investors.   The objective is to better understand where/how investors are seeing the Climate Adaptation opportunity.    


Mazarine’s motivation to conduct this survey comes from our interest in understanding why so much financial capital goes into decarbonization, and how little is allocated to Climate Adaptation. On the surface, it’s apparent why, but we wanted to dig deeper. Mazarine will utilize the survey results to contribute to ongoing investor conversations around Climate Adaptation Tech, which Mazarine refers to as “CAT”.



Who responded to this survey?

Almost 60% of respondents were VCs, of those, more than half are operating with an impact mandate.  The next largest group of respondents was PE.


70% of respondents had already made investments into decarb/netzero side, and 75% have already invested on the adaptation side.  What this means is that respondents are mostly familiar with trends, opportunities, and dealflow in Climate-Change mitigation and adaptation.


What were their top priorities? 66% of respondents told us that their top priority is to make investment into companies with technologies that address climate-change-induced water-related risks.  This was followed by 17% who pointed to fire as their top priority. Heat was the leading response as a secondary priority, with very few focused on wind risk.


Whilst respondents clicked on ‘water’ this doesn’t translate necessarily into the so-called ‘water sector’ which mostly refers to utilities.  Their focus is on water-risk, which cuts across sectors as diverse as aquaculture, insurance, and mineral processing.


In terms of sector focus within Climate Adaptation, we asked respondents to pick their top 3 sectors of focus. The majority of respondents (70%) indicated they have a preference to invest in companies with technologies that support adaptation efforts of utilities, including power and water.  65% had agriculture in their top 3, and 45% had the Finance/Insurance/Real Estate (FIRE) sector in their top 3.


This surprised us.  That so many investors find the market for regulated utilities attractive suggests that investors like the relative stability of the utilities industry, whereas other sectors can be highly cyclical.   


What types of deals?

As for stage, 62% of respondents highlighted their focus is young companies with revenues nearing US$1M in sales and are raising a seed or Series A round.   This was followed by investors focused on pre-seed (ie: pre-revenue companies) and then companies with revenues nearing US$10M.      Since Mazarine is a VC with an impact mandate, many of the respondents have a similar focus to Mazarine as deals are syndicated regularly.   


When asked about preference between hardware and software, the leading answer (43%) indicated that they are building a hardware-oriented portfolio but will do some data and software deals.  Surprisingly, only 13% stated they are only focused on software/digital/data offerings.


The geographic focus of the respondents was primarily (80%) on deals in North America, Europe (including UK, Ireland and Nordics) and ANZ.   The second highest response was from investors with a global focus.


Surprises?

It was no surprise that most investors responded that the water-risk vertical is the most investable of verticals in Climate Adaptation.   Heat, fire, and wind risks are deadly and destructive, but from a VC/PE perspective, slightly harder to play.


What was a surprise?  That so many investors indicated they would like to invest in companies with solutions that meet the climate adaptation needs of power and water utilities.   


Conclusions

VC and PE investors, generally speaking, are still operating with relatively immature investment thesis on the adaptation side of Climate-tech. The investors that filled out this survey are familiar with the space, but it's estimated that most investors see ‘adaptation’ and ask ‘What, like building sea walls?” Other investors seemingly hear 'Climate Adaptation' and their mind goes directly to climate finance, with little consideration of the role that technology plays.


Most PE and VC investors are keen to invest more on the adaptation side - as revealed in the first survey in this series; however, most lack a working thesis, an efficient taxonomy, and an effective exit strategy.  To address this, more sharing, learning, and syndication is needed amongst checkbooks focused on early-stage and lower-mid-market companies with innovations that help industry and society deal with heat, water, fire, and wind risks in our new climate reality.    


Thanks To Louis Woodall, the results of this survey originally appeared in Climate Proof


Survey 1 of 3


Survey 3 or 3 will be conducted in Summer 2024

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