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Prime Impact Fund raises $52 million to jumpstart climate-tech pipeline

ImpactAlpha, June 16 – Climate innovations aren’t going to fund themselves. Prime Coalition, founded by Sarah Kearney (an ImpactAlpha Agent of Impact), set out in 2015 to syndicate high-risk, high-impact climate technology deals to risk-taking investors. Not venture capitalists, who didn’t have the appetite, but philanthropic foundations and family offices willing to take on risk with a growing set of investment tools (see, “Prime Coalition investments bridge capital gap for early-stage climate solutions).

Prime has driven more than $24 million to 10 climate tech startups. Early investments such as Quidnet Energy, Redwave Energy, ConnectDER and Rebound Technologies went on to raise tens of million of dollars from Breakthrough Energy Ventures and others.

Prime Impact Fund, the nonprofit venture fund of Prime Coalition, closed its first fund with $52 million in mission and program-related investments, recoverable grants as well as traditional grants.

Among the 76 investors are Sierra Club Foundation and Packard Foundation, which announced its investment last October. MacArthur Foundation, a long-time Prime Coalition funder, is the fund’s latest backer with a program-related investment through the Catalytic Capital Consortium. Prime Coalition has rallied more than 150 philanthropic investors to early climate-tech investments.

“The tide is turning in the climate fight,” said Prime Impact’s Matthew Nordan. Prime Impact targets technologies with the potential to reduce at least a half-gigaton of carbon emissions by 2050, including carbon capture, sustainable agriculture, process heat, and zero-emission aviation. “Companies launched in these fields today can become pillars of the low-carbon economy.”

Prime Impact has invested $9.1 million in eight deals, including Clean Crop Technologies, which reduces post-harvest losses with a chemical-free treatment. The fund backed lithium mining technology company Lilac Solutions, which raised a $20 million follow-on in February. Madison, Wisc.-based C-Motive Technologies, is designing a more powerful, less expensive electric motor.

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