Recent blog posts

Portfolio Spotlight: CarbonCure

Posted by on in Video



BNN interview with CarbonCure CEO Robert Niven.  CarbonCure retrofits concrete plants with a technology that recycles waste carbon dioxide to make affordable, greener concrete products.

In the worlds of Solid-State Physics and Materials Science, it is pretty common for exciting materials phenomenon to be predicted before they’re ever experimentally verified in the physical world. However, this typically occurs years, decades, or even centuries before commercial applications become viable and sustainable businesses can be formed. Many times, these jumps from prediction to demonstration to commercialization are never truly made.

Accelerating the 2D Unicorn

Posted by on in Advanced Materials

The hottest field in the world of advanced materials today is 3D printing. But this has been a long time coming. Hideo Kodama of Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research first developed additive manufacturing equipment and materials in1981. This original work closely resembles the stereolithography technique pioneered by Charles Hull that remains a dominant technique today. Despite the promising future at the time of this original work, it wasn’t until 27 years later, in 2008, that the additive manufacturing industry finally surpassed one billion dollars in revenue, a key threshold in becoming mainstream. Borrowing from Silicon Valley, I’ll use the term “revenue unicorn” for this milestone. Since that time, there has been no looking back.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently revealed its 2015 top 10 emerging technologies that offer “a glimpse of the power of innovation to improve lives, transform industries and safeguard the planet”. The list is comprised of fuel cell vehicles, next-generation robotics, recyclable thermoset plastics, precise genetic engineering techniques, additive manufacturing, emergent artificial intelligence, distributed manufacturing, ‘sense and avoid’ drones, neuromorphic technology, and digital genome. Interestingly, the identified technologies have a lot in common with Pangaea Ventures focus areas of energy, health, sustainability, and electronics, driven by advanced materials innovation to make the world better.

The Only Woman In The Room

Posted by on in Venture Capital

When Fortune magazine released an update to their 2014 study on women in venture capital last month concluding that (big surprise) not much has changed, I was asked to write a follow up to a blog I wrote 2 years ago titled “women: a start-up’s secret weapon”. You can access this posting here – but the key takeaway is that studies have shown when you add a woman (or a few of them) to your team, the intelligence of the group rises. Shocking right?

Since the initial 2014 study – women are still grossly underrepresented in venture capital (if you can even call 4% at the senior levels representation), not to mention in STEM (science, technology, engineering, medicine) companies across the board. 

Another Super Bowl has come and gone and once again, the Lombardi trophy has eluded the Philadelphia Eagles. Alas, it’s now been a decade since the Eagles have made it to the Big Game, and their last NFL Championship was in 1960, 6 years before the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game, posthumously dubbed “Super Bowl I”. However, the Eagles can claim one title for 2015: The Philadelphia Eagles lead the NFL in installed solar capacity with 3,000 kW. Living up to their ‘green’ colors, the Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field has installed – through a partnership with NRG – 11,000+ solar panels and 14 micro wind-turbines.

Thermoelectrics Deserve Some Heat

Posted by on in Energy

Would you be surprised to learn that the most advanced economy in the world is only forty percent efficient at utilizing its key input?   Shockingly, of the 100 Quads of energy consumed in the United States in 2014, only 40 quads performed useful services such as cooling a building or transporting the kids to soccer practice.  The remaining was lost as heat.  A shameful waste or a tremendous opportunity?   

You may have noticed we changed the website recently. Good opportunity to write a blog to explain in more detail!  Pangaea's been focused on advanced materials venture capital since its first fund launched. Every investment we've made since 2003 has been exclusively in advanced materials. However, the way we look at the sectors has evolved over time. For our third fund, launched in 2011, we had five different areas of interest, three of which were in energy (generation, storage and efficiency), with the other two being sustainable materials / processes and environmental. Now, four years into that fund, we can look at most of its portfolio (we still have dry powder to do a few more deals this year) and see most of the investments have been in the non-energy areas. Indeed, most of our deal flow has come from the non-energy sectors.

Oil: The Biggest Economic News of 2014

Posted by on in Energy

The precipitous drop in the price of oil and an almost equal sell off in oil stocks has been the most significant financial and perhaps industrial event of 2014. Even bigger than Alibaba’s IPO in September.

Fuel cell cars are once again in the spotlight! Hyundai is leasing its Tucson Fuel Cell model and aiming for 1000 units by 2015. Honda plans to start selling their model in 2016 while Toyota revealed its Mirai (Japanese for “Future”) that is slated for release this month (Japan) and later next year in USA and Europe. Ford, Daimler and Renault-Nissan are jointly developing technology for “affordable, mass market fuel cell vehicles by 2017” while General Motors and Honda initiated a development partnership last year. Even the New York Times ran a supportive editorial on November 29th titled, “Hydrogen Cars, Coming Down the Pike”. But despite the big headlines and model releases, it’s still a long, bumpy road ahead for fuel cell cars. Unfilled promises and lofty projections have generated a healthy dose of skepticism. At Pangaea Ventures, we have been and are still on the lookout for game changing technology solutions to remove the high barriers in the way of mass deployment of fuel cells (FCs).