Pangaea Blog

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

Recent blog posts

In May 2014, Pangaea Ventures hosted the Advanced Materials Commercialization Summit at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The invite-only event attracted over sixty major multinational corporations, research centers and investors to discuss key issues in the commercialization of products and technologies enabled by breakthrough innovations in the physical sciences. Key topics included energy, electronics, health, and sustainability.

What's in a Name?

Posted by on in Venture Capital

A while back, Pangaea General Partner Keith Gillard wrote a blog about our proactive approach to generating dealflow and evaluating potential solutions to identified market needs (found here). A consequence of this proactive strategy is that we interact with a whole lot of startup companies from around the world. While the majority of these companies are attempting to commercialize exciting materials technologies to solve some of the world’s bigger problems, we tend to be quite selective in where we place our money. For a typical VC, the percentage of companies invested in compared to companies evaluated is 1% or less. There are many reasons for this, ranging from a lack of confidence in the management team’s ability to execute to technology differentiation to IP concerns to expected long time horizons to revenue generation and possible exit.

Prying Open the Licensing Toolkit

Posted by on in Venture Capital

As discussed last week in my blog entitled Add Licensing to your Business Model Toolkit, licensing is an important tool for the advanced materials start-up CEO. However as I pointed out last week, concerns about value capture and loss of market influence cannot be ignored if the goal is to build a valuable and important business capable of generating venture capital returns. Furthermore, when licensing technologies in energy or industrial markets that often place less value on IP compared to IP-centric businesses such as IT and biotech., deal creativity can be the order of the day. The four tactics described below should be considered in formulating a start-up company licensing strategy:

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

Posted by on in Video

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

KAITEKI And The Water Cycle

Posted by on in Environmental

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

Posted by on in Video

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.