German climate tech VC raises ‘record-breaking’ €300M first fund

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Berlin-based World Fund has filled its coffers with 300M, in what it claims to be the largest first-time fund raised by any climate tech VC in European history. 

Founded in 2021, World Fund invests in startups building tech to decarbonise industries from energy and buildings to transport and agriculture. It has already backed 15 early-stage companies, including SpaceForge, which manufactures materials in orbit, and Slovenian startup Juicy Marbles, which makes fake meat whole cuts

“We look for founders building companies and technologies with the potential to scale, deliver significant cuts in CO2 emissions, and power systemic change,” Danijel Visevic, managing partner at World Fund, told TNW.   

Securing cash has been especially tough the last year or so, amid one of history’s biggest downturns in VC funding. This has pushed many promising startups off the edge.  

World Fund looks to bridge the gap by focusing on the larger sums startups need to scale. Investing in climate tech should give it a head start — the sector remains one of the most resilient despite muted VC activity. 

“We are on a mission to ensure that the best of European climate techs do not fail due to the dearth of funding beyond the earliest stages — that infamous ‘Series B valley of death’ that has plagued European companies for too long,” said Višević.

The World Fund team. Credit: World Fund

World Fund will use the fresh capital to make new investments in over 25 European climate tech and deep tech startups. This week, it co-led a €25mn founding round in UK-based Mission Zero, which builds energy-efficient carbon capture machines

The sheer size of its first fund puts the VC in good stead to provide a significant runway for these budding companies, it said. 

World Fund managed to raise so much money partly thanks to what it calls the “institutionalisation” of climate tech — in other words, that the sector is maturing. 

Many of World Fund’s new backers had never invested in first-time VC funds. These include the UK Environment Agency Pension Fund and British accounting giant PwC.

“Our climate is at a pivotal juncture and institutional investors, like many people and organisations worldwide, are increasingly aware of the urgent need to take action and invest in the technologies that will deliver a regenerative world,” said Višević.  

World Fund was founded in 2021 by Daria Saharova, Danijel Višević, Tim Schumacher, and Craig Douglas. It has offices in Berlin, Munich, Cologne, and Amsterdam.

World Fund was backed by the European Investment Fund, which commited €50mn, KfW Capital, Wachstumsfonds, BPI France (its first investment outside France), PwC Germany, NRWbank, and Ignitis Group. A number of pension funds also joined the fund, including the UK Environment Agency Pension Fund, Wiltshire Pension Fund, and Croatia’s Erste Plavi.

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