Recent blog posts

Catalysts are advanced materials that enable chemical transformations. It is estimated that more than 60% of chemical products and 90% of chemical processes are made possible by catalysis. The catalyst market size exceeds $25 billion and involves large industries supplying products and services critical to everyday living. Enzymes, which are nature’s catalysts, drive the biochemical processes in living organisms and anchor industrial biocatalysis. Catalysis is now expected to play a crucial role in transformational technologies designed to usher in a better and cleaner world. This is key area of interest for Pangaea Ventures and our portfolio companies are already leveraging unique catalytic processes to engineer and manufacture novel advanced materials.

Pangaea is one of twenty original venture capital funds designated under the new Canadian Startup Visa program. We are excited at the prospects of helping entrepreneurs with world-class advanced materials innovation locate their companies to Canada.

The Startup Visa program was launched on April 1, 2013 by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to help recruit innovative entrepreneurs to Canada. The program provides what I would call a fast track visa process for entrepreneurs with world-class innovation who desire immigration to Canada.

Biofuels: The Next Generation

Posted by on in Energy

A long time ago in a galaxy not so far, far away someone had the novel idea to take plant matter and convert it to liquid fuel. What started with first generation (or conventional) biofuels has rapidly evolved to biofuels made from 'sustainable' feedstocks and beyond.

Now. Before the comment board fills up with comments pertaining to the terrible Star Trek / Star Wars references – Biofuels: The Next Episode just didn't have the same ring to it.

Biofuels have been getting a lot of attention lately from everyone from multinational oil companies to President Obama. But what exactly are they talking about? And are we all talking about the same technology? The short answer is no.

"Gas and renewable energy sources should be seen as allies rather than enemies". New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a cleantech enthusiast, offered this advice recently at the 2013 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit. Others see the relationship between renewables and natural gas as symbiotic.

Why We Say No

Posted by on in Venture Capital

Chances are, some of you have pitched to Pangaea in the past. We probably said "no". Although we invest at a good pace, saying "yes" to the most compelling opportunities, we don't like to waste our time, or yours. So, if we're going to say "no", we'll try to do so as quickly as possible.

I'd like to summarize some of the reasons we say no, grouping them in 4 basic areas: Fit, Management, Momentum and Exit.

Don’t Scoff at MOFs

Posted by on in Energy

Metal Organic Frameworks, or MOFs for short, are hybrid organic-inorganic crystalline compounds that currently hold world records for internal surface area and gas storage capacity. MOFs, sometimes referred to as porous coordination networks or porous coordination polymers, derive their unique properties from their ability to form ordered structures with tunable pore sizes and tunable chemical environments within the pores. From this nanoporosity, some MOFs exhibit extremely high surface areas. To put it in perspective, one gram of MOF material can have more surface area than a football field!

Smartphones and NFC Intelligence

Posted by on in Electronics

Samsung Electronics unveiled its new Galaxy S4 in New York last week to great fan fare and high expectations. One key feature of the new phone is its near-field communication (NFC) capabilities.

NFC-enabled smartphones allow the user to interact with products at a local and retail level. The user can now use his or her phone to get product level intelligence simply by tapping the phone on a product. The phone can redeem coupons by tapping a coupon tag at the front of a store and then enable the customer to purchase the item via secure payment systems.

As a self-professed solar industry cheerleader, even I have learned that striking up a conversation about solar with my venture capitalist peers will typically yield eyes that either quickly start looking around the room, or start to resemble those of the devil as if I have committed a great sin. The fact is that most dedicated clean tech funds and the Sand Hill Road heavyweights have invested heavily in the sector and I can point to exactly one solar module company exit to-date that could legitimately be bragged about. The sad truth is that solar investments have single handedly laid the knockout blow to several mainstream venture firms that got on the wrong side "all in" bets. Nevertheless, while most of the attention has been cast on the highest profile flameouts, quietly within the four walls of numerous buildings around the world, the survivor start-ups toil away despite a negative margin-pricing market bloodbath and a near impossible fundraising environment.

The March of Carbon

Posted by on in Sustainability

Carbon is the stuff of life! A vital element in nature, it is also one of the most abundant elements and present in every life form. Indeed, we, humans, have been classified as "carbon units" by V'Ger in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It is a sort of friendly element, easily reacting with other elements, resulting in a library of millions of compounds. While carbon has been used since prehistoric times, it took thousands of years to discover the various forms or allotropes known to us today. Carbon's ubiquitous nature also gives rise to the so-called carbon cycle, a biogeochemical process involving the cycling of carbon atoms between earth and its atmosphere. Recognition as an element came in the eighteenth century and a carbon isotope forms the basis of the carbon dating (Nobel Prize in 1960) technology so critical to archeology.

Look! What’s that up there in the sky?! It’s a bird! No, it’s a plane! No, It’s Superman?!

Ok – not really. But some time soon there might be high temperature superconducting material up in the sky. Teams of scientists in the US and Europe are studying the incorporation of superconducting wire into wind turbines (in place of copper) which could increase the generation power from 2-3 megawatts to super-powered 10 megawatt generators.