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New investors are pouring in to fund the climate tech companies of tomorrow

Leonardo DiCaprio is now officially backing a new venture capital fund, Regeneration.VC, and working as a partner to invest from a $45 million pool of cash to fund the transition of consumer products away from fossil fuels.

And two seasoned policy and climate executives Sierra Peterson and Sarah Sclarsic, just launched Voyager Ventures with $100 million in commitments from some heavy hitting tech entrepreneurs and investors like Logan Green, the chief executive of Lyft, and his wife, Eva.

Shomik Dutta, a founder of the policy-focused investment fund Higher Ground Labs, has a new climate-focused fund called Overture that's focusing on helping climate startups navigate the policy landscape.

"Overture is an early-stage climate-focused fund that differentiates our capital by providing deep government and regulatory expertise as part of our investment. We do not lead rounds and instead co-invest alongside top-tier VCs," Dutta wrote in an email. "To date, we have made 4 investments (Antora Energy; Climate Robotics; Forum Mobility; stealth EV trucking startup). We have co-invested with Tiger Global, Obvious Ventures, Breakthrough, LowerCarbon, etc. We have partnered with Boundary Stone, a large climate lobbying and government strategy firm. All of our portfolio companies receive in-kind services from Boundary Stone as part of our investment."

It's all to support a wave of new entrepreneurs launching companies focused on humanity's biggest, industry-spanning, economic transformation.

The fervor is being matched by corporate investors. Last year, they funneled $23.2 billion into climate businesses, according to data from PitchBook acquired by The Wall Street Journal. In all, startups in the climate space raised roughly $40 billion in 2021. In all, tech investors funneled $637 billion into tech companies over the last year.

“We need forward-thinking approaches that perform measurably better for our planet,” DiCaprio said in a statement about the launch of his new fund. “It’s time for people to feel good about their purchases and for businesses to meet that challenge—every bite of food, every t-shirt, every product counts.”

Founders of companies like massive technology giants like Shopify, Supercell, Unity, and Tableau joined General Partners from Union Square Ventures, NEA, Insight, and Lowercarbon's Chris Sacca to finance the Voyager Ventures fund.

"I'm thrilled to invest both time and money into Voyager," said Jeff Immelt, former CEO of GE. "Decarbonization is a massive market opportunity and Sarah and Sierra have the experience, knowledge and networks to create an exceptional fund investing in the next set of billion-dollar businesses in climate technology."

Peterson previously worked at the Obama White House Office of Energy and Climate Change and the International Energy Agency and more recently designing $3 billion in solar and energy efficiency financing and retrofit packages.

Meanwhile, Sclarsic has a background in entrepreneurship and tech that ranges from the ride-hailing company Getaround to the lab-grown leather company, Modern Meadow.

"A generation of motivated and talented founders is committed to building solutions to the climate crisis, and we couldn't be more excited to back them," Sclarsic said in a statement. "That's why we founded Voyager, to extend the work we've been doing already for many years. We invest in foundational technologies that can decarbonize transportation, energy systems, and food and materials production, among other areas."

These new firms are rising to meet the demands of an energy transition that's not being funded appropriately. As the recent IPCC report acknowledged -- funding levels in all categories are falling well short of their required targets to reach the goals laid out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Three to six times more capital is needed to adequately address the energy transition, according to the report.

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