Recent blog posts

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?   

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).

An article published recently on forbes.com by Martin Zwilling highlights his recommendations for “10 calculated risks that lead to startup success”. This article, like so many others, provides some great insights for wannabe or existing founders and entrepreneurs. However, what if you’re in a business that is more capital intensive, has longer iteration cycles or addresses more complicated problems. Say, involving materials or chemistry development?

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: