Dealflow | May 23, 2023

Collaborative Fund offers up $15 million to ignite sustainable materials development at Harvard

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, May 23 – Collaborative’s network of investment fund managers has directed $1 billion into impact entrepreneurship. Another $200 million is going toward climate investing.

Now, the funders are putting up $15 million for the next generation of sustainable and circular materials.

“The materials used to make up our everyday lives – the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and even the construction materials shaping our buildings – will look radically different,” Collab Fund’s Sophie Bakalar told ImpactAlpha.

The funding will help launch a material sciences lab at Harvard University in partnership with the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering to help researchers and entrepreneurs move innovations to market.

“We see this as a call-to-arms for our researchers and entrepreneurs working on problems in sustainability,” said Wyss Institute’s Donald Ingber.

Climate opportunity

About 80% of climate capital goes toward transportation, energy, food and land use.

“Materials and supply chains have a tremendous impact on climate change, but this sector has received far less interest from climate investors historically,” said Bakalar.

A number of sustainable materials enterprises have announced raises this year. Last week, Tangible raised $3 million to help real estate firms understand and manage materials’ effect on the carbon footprint of their developments.

Collab has backed lab-grown leather venture Modern Meadow and Natural Fiber Welding, which makes sustainable textiles.

Synthetic biology and other “hard tech” breakthroughs often take a decade or more to reach commercialization.

“It’s certainly our hope that we can continue investing in companies that spin out of the lab, alongside other investors,” said Bakalar.

Collab will help teams identify customers, develop business models and build commercialization teams. A perk: pipeline opportunities for Collab.