Pangaea Blog

Pangaea invests in early stage cleantech companies with world-class advanced materials innovation.

Recent blog posts

Venture capital investments in “hardware” companies such as advanced materials start-ups have typically focused on productization and scale-up as the key value creation activities. Partnering in the form of joint ventures, joint development or distribution agreements have traditionally been the business model of choice. Licensing models are often shunned with the argument being that you leave money on the table and your ability to influence is lost while fate is determined by corporate and market forces beyond your control. Valid points! But these issues can often be mitigated and should be weighed against the advantages of licensing, of course in the context of the market dynamics and industry structure that is faced.

Portfolio Spotlight: NewLeaf Symbiotics

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NewLeaf Symbiotics is an agricultural biotechnology company commercializing applications of naturally-occuring plant-associated bacteria for improved agricultural performance.

KAITEKI And The Water Cycle

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Have you ever heard of ‘KAITEKI’? This is the original concept of our company, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation (MCHC), to promote our business activities. KAITEKI is a Japanese word that conventionally means ‘comfortable’ or ‘pleasant’ for which is no exact English equivalent. It’s a ward that is closely associated with state of well-being, symbiosis, and harmony. We express a sustainable condition which is comfortable not only for people, but also for society and the Earth by the word ‘KAITEKI’. MCHC is aiming to realize KAITEKI by solving issues in various fields including living, information & electronics, medical care, environment, and energy as an integrated chemical company whose business domains include Performance Products, Health Care and Industrial Materials. And I believe the key to ‘KAITEKI’ is breakthrough innovation in chemical and material science, which is where Pangaea focuses.

Portfolio Spotlight: Switch Materials

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Pangaea presents a Portfolio Spotlight on smart windows company Switch Materials, featuring an interview with CEO Doug Wiggin.

Recycling is a transformation process converting waste materials into useful products. Many of us are involved in recycling firsthand; in my case, every two weeks, the waste disposal company truck shows up in my neighborhood to collect a mix of paper, glass, plastic, steel and aluminum containers for recycling. I should note, however, that this is only the first step in the overall recycling process flow. In the 3R’s “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” environmental practice, recycling is now playing a key role in addressing the supply of critical materials. At stake is the availability of adequate material resources as the global population marches upwards to 9.6 billion by 2050. Other driving forces include reduction in environmental pollution and meeting evolving regulatory standards in the push for a more sustainable future. Imagine getting access to metals without resorting to strip mining, open-pit mining and the associated land destruction and environmental damage! How about recapturing scarce materials from the billions of discarded electronic devices? Designing manufacturing processes to convert pollutants into useful products! Protecting trees, the lungs of the planet, by increasing paper recycling. Converting greenhouse gases into useful products! With sustainability a key part of our focus, Pangaea Ventures monitors innovation, new approaches and emerging companies in materials recycling.

While the periodic table may depict rare earth metals in one of the two additional rows thrown in at the very bottom, almost as an ad-hoc afterthought, these elements shouldn't be overlooked. They play significant roles in many large disparate industries and geopolitics alike.

Magnets are perhaps the best-known application for rare earth elements (REEs). Permanent magnets made from alloys of REEs with transition metals and boron enable commercial production of the strongest permanent magnets known today. Stronger magnets allow for smaller, lighter replacements of traditional ferrite-based and alnico magnets. From computer hard drives to neomagnet building set toys to open MRI scanners, rare earth magnets are finding their way in to products all around us both large and small.

A penny saved is a penny earned. An old idiom still frequently uttered today. And its core value extends well beyond basic finance to energy. While "a watt saved is a watt earned" doesn't have quite the same ring to it, the implications are much the same.

Portfolio Spotlight: Vestaron

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Pangaea presents a Portfolio Spotlight on sustainable agricultural pesticide company Vestaron Corporation, featuring an interview with CEO Dr. John Sorenson.

June 24th’s indictment of neonicotinoids by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is by far the most conclusive evidence to date of the widespread destructive effects of this class of pesticide ever published. Based on a four-year analysis, bringing together over 800 peer-reviewed papers, the IUCN has recommended a global phase-out the use of all neonicotinoid and fipronil pesticides ("neonics" for short).

In my opening remarks at the Advanced Materials Commercialization Summit on May 13, 2014, I discussed several “giga goals” facing advanced materials in the energy, electronics, health and sustainability markets.

In energy, batteries are widely seen as the Achilles heel of the electric vehicle. A Tesla replacement battery is $30,000 or about a third of the value of the car. On top of that, the range of an electric car is only about half that of a combustion car. The US DOE has a cost target of $5,000 per battery ($125/kWhr) by 2020 and an energy density target of 250 Wh/kg. The question put forth to the battery producers is how will we achieve these lofty goals? Well, significant work needs to happen. Perhaps this is why Telsa is proposing the largest battery factory in the world. When completed, it will produce batteries for 500,000 Tesla cars representing 35 GWh of energy per year. This one factory will produce more batteries than the current world production capacity. The Tesla Giga factory will reduce cost through scale but won’t alone solve all of the battery issues. There will need to be improvements in energy density by identifying and optimizing new materials. Pangaea has seen a number of companies work on promising technology such as layered chemistry for the cathode and silicon for the anode.