Tien Nguyen and Linh Nguyen, general partners, Earth Venture Capital; Credit: Earth Venture Capital
Earth Venture Capital, which invests in early-stage climate-tech startups and has just closed its debut fund recently, extended invitations to Taiwanese startups and universities with innovative and scalable digital solutions to help tackle the climate change crisis.
Tien Nguyen and Linh Nguyen, the two general partners of Earth Venture Capital, told DIGITIMES that the fund has the support of many well-connected and resourceful global investors and governments, including the European Investment Fund and Enterprise Ireland.
With general partners coming from the background of information technology, Earth Venture will invest in digital-solution companies, as well as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and even robotics. “We see that the combination between human and robot and artificial intelligence is the best way to create a new solution,” said Linh Nguyen.
“We have three pillars in the ecosystem to help startups scale and grow,” said Tien Nguyen, explaining that besides the VC fund as the first pillar, they also operate a venture studio to provide the assistance and resources in support for startups as the second pillar.
The third pillar will be the Earth Venture Foundation, which provides research grants and scholarships to universities and research institutes on research projects related to climate change solutions.
Earth Venture Foundation has a committee to screen potential research projects on the ABC gold standards, namely, “ambitious”, “breakthrough”, and “commitment”.
For research grants, Earth Venture Foundation sponsors each project up to US$100,000 from a pool of US$1 million. For the startup, aside from writing cheques between US$300k to US$3 million from the debut fund, they also deploy an on-site venture studio program for pre-seed stage ones with a US$50k cash investment for each startup.
What is the motivation behind the fund’s investment focus on digital solutions for climate tech? Climate tech seems stuck with the perception that it needs huge capital, and only the big corporations or governments can tackle the problem, Linh Nguyen said. “But we have different perceptions about them. We believe that the solution for climate change not only can come from the policy side but also from the disruptive innovation in new technology.”
Currently, the world’s focus on dealing with climate change has been on material science and chemistry, but it can also come from physical solutions and digital solutions, said Linh Nguyen, stressing that the impact of good solutions and ideas can be multiplied to save a lot of energy by changing the way people use the fuel and their lifestyles. Examples of digital solutions have already emerged, as sharing economy companies such as Uber, Grab and Airbnb demonstrated, he said.
“Although many new technologies will mature in the next decade, for them to become the mainstream still takes a long time. And we believe that the information technology can shorten the process,” said Linh Nguyen, stressing that the fund aims to empower the entrepreneurs to speed up the process and create solutions to tackle the challenges.
Tien Nguyen said they welcome applications from startups and universities all over the world, and the VC fund would focus on “seed to series A stage” investments.
About startups from Taiwan, Tien strongly believes that they will provide a good fit for the fund due to the quality of the ecosystem and the urge of a vulnerable island to come up with solutions for climate change.