VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Oct. 27, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good is participating in three new funding rounds of US$20 million, US$6.5 million and US$4 million respectively with equity investments in clean technology startups, Climate Robotics, erthos™ and Plentify. Houston-based Climate Robotics is leveraging advanced robotics and AI to help sequester carbon while improving the health of our agricultural soils. Based in Mississauga, erthos is leading the charge to address the global plastic pollution crisis with a plant-based resin alternative to traditional plastic. Finally, Plentify is a smart energy company located in South Africa and the United States that uses AI and IoT technologies to connect household appliances to cheaper, cleaner and more reliable energy. These new investments bring the number of impact startups supported by the Pollinator Fund to 30.
“As a global leader in sustainability, TELUS’ readiness and capability to swiftly deploy capital to help scale clean tech innovations will contribute to promote adoption of zero-emission solutions,” said Blair Miller, Managing Partner, TELUS Pollinator Fund. “That’s why the Pollinator Fund is investing in Climate Robotics, erthos and Plentify: to play an active role in sequestering CO2, solving the plastic crisis and addressing the global pressure on electricity grids, thereby contributing to climate resilience and the circular economy.”
Climate Robotics: helping farmers store planet-warming carbon in fields
Climate Robotics leverages technologies to sequester carbon emissions from agricultural crop residue by safely storing them in the ground. The startup leverages biochar, a powerful soil amendment technology that has high carbon sequestration capacity and also provides notable agricultural benefits, allowing crop farmers to reduce their use of chemicals while improving soil nutrient and moisture retention. However, biochar is expensive and out of reach for many farmers. The Pollinator Fund’s investment will help Climate Robotics scale its robotic and AI technology which helps convert waste generated on farms into biochar and re-applies it back onto agricultural lands to improve soil health. This approach dramatically reduces the cost of biochar production and makes it more accessible to farmers while delivering high-quality carbon credits.
“Biochar production is one of the most promising soil carbon storage technologies. However, collecting and transporting biomass from farms to processing facilities and end clients is very expensive and inefficient,” said Jason Aramburu, CEO of Climate Robotics. “Climate Robotics has quickly evolved, validated its on-farm technology and is continuously improving efficiency, economics and revenue-generation potential. With the support of the TELUS Pollinator Fund, we will be able to scale our sales and engineering capacity to accelerate the deployment of our technology and drive both commercial growth and research and development (R&D).”
erthos: Tackling the plastic pollution challenge
The TELUS Pollinator Fund’s financial participation in erthos’ oversubscribed Series A funding round of $6.5 million – increasing the startups’ total financing to $11.2 million – will enable the women-led company to continue designing next-gen solutions and further collaborating with leading brands across North America and Asia by supplying natural resins. The world produces 300 million tons of plastic waste annually and 50 percent of this waste comes from single use items. Additionally, more than 90 percent of single use plastics aren’t properly recycled, ending up in landfills and leaking into the environment including oceans. To tackle this challenge, erthos offers plant powered alternatives with materials that are compatible with existing plastic manufacturing systems, sustainably made and compostable at their end of life. The startup is working to rapidly grow its biomaterials platform by expanding its bio-based ingredient database and integrating AI-powered tools to swiftly design sustainable resins for products like packaging, personal care containers and tableware.
“This investment from the TELUS Pollinator Fund is more than just financial support; it’s a validation of our efforts to create plant-powered alternatives to plastic,” said Nuha Siddiqui, CEO and co-founder of erthos. “We’re excited to continue growing our bio-based ingredient database and collaborating with major brands to replace single-use plastics with compostable solutions.”
Plentify: Turning home appliances into intelligent assets that enable clean energy
Rapid urbanization and climate change put immense pressure on electricity grids around the globe with electric water heaters devouring around half of a household’s energy. The TELUS Pollinator Fund’s investment into Plentify will enable the startup to tackle the pressing energy challenges by empowering home appliances to fight blackouts and support the transition to renewable energy. Plentify’s flagship product, HotBot, connects to any electric water heater and trains it to use up to 30 per cent less energy. It forms a virtual power plant with other HotBots to shift energy away from dirty, expensive peak times and towards times when excess renewable energy is available. At its core, the technology addresses the mismatch between electricity supply and demand, whether to reduce 20 hours per month of blackouts in South Africa or enable solar plants twice as large in California.
“TELUS’ investment is a catalyst in our mission to ease the strain on global electricity grids amidst rapid urbanization and climate change and is a testament to the global applicability of our technology,” said Plentify CEO, Jon Kornik. “By retrofitting everyday water heaters and shifting residential energy demand, we are not only creating a virtual power plant which can fight major issues on our grids today but also priming them for greater amounts of renewable energy in the future.”
About the TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good
The TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good, launched with an initial $100 million investment, is one of the world’s largest corporate social impact funds and focuses its investments on for-profit companies and founders committed to driving social innovation. The TELUS Pollinator Fund is an extension of TELUS’ long-standing commitment to leveraging the power of technology to drive positive social and environmental outcomes for all Canadians by funding the development of solutions for transforming healthcare, caring for our planet, supporting responsible agriculture and enabling inclusive communities. To learn more about the TELUS Pollinator Fund, please visit: telus.com/pollinator.