Clean Energy | December 1, 2020

Third Derivative aims to accelerate climate tech

Amy Cortese
ImpactAlpha Editor

Amy Cortese

ImpactAlpha, Dec. 1 – In calculus, the third derivative is the rate of change of the rate of change, or to put it another way, the acceleration of acceleration.

Third Derivative, a partnership of the Rocky Mountain Institute and New Energy Nexus, aims to commercialize and scale climate solutions more quickly by providing startups tackling hard climate challenges with access to funding, corporate partners and policymakers.

“We need them all if we’re going to solve climate,“ Third Derivative’s Bryan Guido Hassin told ImpactAlpha.

The nine corporate partners include AT&T, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, BP Ventures, Engie and Microsoft. Venture capital partners include Chrysalix Ventures, Emerald Technology Ventures, Factor[e] Ventures, Imperative Ventures, Social Alpha and Skyview Ventures.

Many corporations have little idea of how they’re going to meet the bold climate ambitions they have publicly set, Hassin says. At the same time, promising ideas can die on the vine while startups navigate corporate bureaucracy.

Cohort 417

The first cohort of 47 startups, named for the record carbon dioxide level of 417 parts-per-million recorded in May, was selected from more than 600 applicants from six continents. Austin-based TexPower, for example, is developing cobalt-free lithium batteries. Italian startup Energy Dome is using CO2 to store renewable energy. LoadExx, a last-mile logistics platform, is deploying electric vehicles in India.

Third Derivative corporate partners pay membership fees; each investor makes seed investments in at least five startups, and possibly more in follow-on funding.

Corporate collaboration

Third Derivative is part of a growing set of intermediaries that connect corporations to solutions for the clean energy transition.

“Rarely do you commercialize without a corporate entity,” as a development partner, pilot investor or acquirer, says Hassin, a serial cleantech entrepreneur. “Our model is to facilitate those interactions.”