Recent blog posts

3D printing is a set of additive manufacturing processes that creates physical objects from digital models one layer at a time. Unlike traditional manufacturing techniques (casting, drilling, machining, etc.), which tend to be subtractive in nature, 3D printing additively builds up an object instead of cutting it down from a larger block of material. While 3D printing dates back to the 1980s, the last decade has seen swift growth and excitement in the sector across the globe. As the various printing approaches improve and the materials palette grows, 3D printing is starting to move from just low volume, highly customized rapid prototyping applications to some final products and post-production customization.

Why You Should Say No

Posted by on in Venture Capital

Several weeks ago, Keith Gillard posted a blog entitled Why We Say No. The goal of that post was to help those exploring venture capital financing to clearly understand the partner qualities we typically look for before walking down the aisle. Hopefully aspiring advanced materials entrepreneurs with the most promising ideas will take this constructively as they build their companies to the stage where Pangaea can say yes. Today however is about the other side of the story and the common situations where my advice would be for the entrepreneur to say no. I am not talking about saying no to an investor that is a poor fit or who has offered unacceptable terms, but rather saying yes to the single life free of VCs all together, at least for now. Let’s look at three valid reasons:

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.