Climate Tech

UrbanTech Market Map Series #2: Zooming into Energy Tech

In the second piece in the UrbanTech Market Map Series, JT shares details on the companies the UrbanTech community is tracking.

John Thomey
John Thomey
Jul 20, 2021
UrbanTech Market Map Series #2: Zooming into Energy Tech
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This piece is a Part of UrbanTech’s ongoing Market Map Series. As we build out our paid community and begin to create shared resources like data, we’ll plan to use this series as building block for the companies we track.

In this overview we share some insights from recent premium UrbanTech interviews and lay the groundwork for our continued focus in the Clean Tech and Energy Space. 

Three notes at the top: 

1. We primarily focused on companies we’ve covered previously, and submitted by the UT community. You can submit your company for future consideration in our series, here.

2. Infrastructure tech and building tech will be its own standalone edition. Many of those companies are less external facing and take more research to find. For that reason we didn’t zoom in on that segment of climate tech in this post.

3. We included the mobility section from our first post with some minor updates. Given the mobility sector’s connection to sustainability these two spaces are closely tied.

High-Level Trends to Keep in Mind

One of the key pillars for any company looking to operate in cities right now is sustainability and energy. Micah Kotch from Urban-X described it recently in a conversation for UrbanTech’s paid community as:

I think that there's certainly this anticipation of a quote-unquote green tidal wave coming. And I also would anticipate that you're going to see more public-private partnerships geared towards resilience, adaptation, mitigation however you want to define sustainability in an urban context more broadly. 

Almost every urban tech company UrbanTech we’ve spoken with in the last year includes sustainability as a mission or key pillar for operations, efficiency and impact. Even if companies aren’t focused on climate tech directly public pressure pushed organizations to discuss their efforts to become more sustainable.

Fast Company recently reported on the extent of “Green Washing” in business using data from an AI robot: 

Meet ClimateBert, an AI tool that deconstructs corporate statements, annual reports, claims, and other materials to assess climate-related disclosures and measure actual performance. It was created by the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), which provides a framework for public organizations to more effectively disclose climate-related performance.

When chatting with employees at startups in the urban tech sector, the discussion of green washing comes up a lot. Often we wonder together how do you decipher the hype of silicon valley claims with the reality?

Climate innovations like biotech or health innovations appear to be much longer time horizons. Often like housing or technology focused on the built environment, we seem much longer horizons to make progress before the business models can begin to “work”.

It’s almost impossible to not be skeptical of any company using environmental claims to support their work. Public consensus on climate change certainly requires efforts. (Personally, I enjoy Data for Progress’s work analyzing the movement of this issue.) 

What keeps me optimistic about urban tech’s role in the future of climate tech and clean tech is that cities and denser communities provide many of the most hopeful solutions while showing us the negative externalities of climate change.

In an UrbanTech premium interview last month, Investor Kate Frucher, Managing Director of The Clean Fight, described the tensions of progress in the space as:

I will say that one of the things that we notice, and you started with this a little bit, is there is a lot of momentum, and there are a lot of stars aligning right now in this sector. Many states, the federal government, and I see more and more investors coming into the space, but adoption is still lagging. 

You see all this potential, and there's a lot of talk about momentum. Still, the actual purchasing is not keeping up, so I think that's what we have to keep our eye on, what will covert into people buying these technologies. EVs are the place where you can see it beginning to happen more and more because it's going mainstream, but we still haven't reached it yet.

Given the context shared by these experts and the tensions between optimism and reality, we wanted to use this edition to create a clear rule for our coverage:

One Rule: As UrbanTech continues to explore the future of climate tech, we aim to balance the optimism and skepticism required for this space. City technologies and urban policy will need to find ways to work with each other to drive the future of the space forward.

Below is the list of companies submitted by our community for inclusion in this series.

Our most controversial inclusion is Stripe, but I think the companies work on climate tech warrants inclusion and we’ll plan to deep dive similar to the piece we wrote last fall on Allbirds making the case it should be considered urban technology.

List of Clean Tech Companies UT is Following:

  1. Aurora
  2. BlocPower
  3. Codegreen
  4. Enertiv
  5. EVgo
  6. Patch
  7. PlugPower
  8. Stripe Climate
  9. Nikola Motors (New mobility tech company we are tracking)
  10. Lucid Motors (New mobility tech company we are tracking)
  11. Proterra
  12. 75F

This piece is a Part of UrbanTech’s ongoing Market Map Series. As we build out our paid community and begin to create shared resources like data, we’ll plan to use this series as building block for the companies we track.

In this overview we share some insights from recent premium UrbanTech interviews and lay the groundwork for our continued focus in the Clean Tech and Energy Space. 

Three notes at the top: 

1. We primarily focused on companies we’ve covered previously, and submitted by the UT community. You can submit your company for future consideration in our series, here.

2. Infrastructure tech and building tech will be its own standalone edition. Many of those companies are less external facing and take more research to find. For that reason we didn’t zoom in on that segment of climate tech in this post.

3. We included the mobility section from our first post with some minor updates. Given the mobility sector’s connection to sustainability these two spaces are closely tied.

High-Level Trends to Keep in Mind

One of the key pillars for any company looking to operate in cities right now is sustainability and energy. Micah Kotch from Urban-X described it recently in a conversation for UrbanTech’s paid community as:

I think that there's certainly this anticipation of a quote-unquote green tidal wave coming. And I also would anticipate that you're going to see more public-private partnerships geared towards resilience, adaptation, mitigation however you want to define sustainability in an urban context more broadly. 

Almost every urban tech company UrbanTech we’ve spoken with in the last year includes sustainability as a mission or key pillar for operations, efficiency and impact. Even if companies aren’t focused on climate tech directly public pressure pushed organizations to discuss their efforts to become more sustainable.

Fast Company recently reported on the extent of “Green Washing” in business using data from an AI robot: 

Meet ClimateBert, an AI tool that deconstructs corporate statements, annual reports, claims, and other materials to assess climate-related disclosures and measure actual performance. It was created by the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), which provides a framework for public organizations to more effectively disclose climate-related performance.

When chatting with employees at startups in the urban tech sector, the discussion of green washing comes up a lot. Often we wonder together how do you decipher the hype of silicon valley claims with the reality?

Climate innovations like biotech or health innovations appear to be much longer time horizons. Often like housing or technology focused on the built environment, we seem much longer horizons to make progress before the business models can begin to “work”.

It’s almost impossible to not be skeptical of any company using environmental claims to support their work. Public consensus on climate change certainly requires efforts. (Personally, I enjoy Data for Progress’s work analyzing the movement of this issue.) 

What keeps me optimistic about urban tech’s role in the future of climate tech and clean tech is that cities and denser communities provide many of the most hopeful solutions while showing us the negative externalities of climate change.

In an UrbanTech premium interview last month, Investor Kate Frucher, Managing Director of The Clean Fight, described the tensions of progress in the space as:

I will say that one of the things that we notice, and you started with this a little bit, is there is a lot of momentum, and there are a lot of stars aligning right now in this sector. Many states, the federal government, and I see more and more investors coming into the space, but adoption is still lagging. 

You see all this potential, and there's a lot of talk about momentum. Still, the actual purchasing is not keeping up, so I think that's what we have to keep our eye on, what will covert into people buying these technologies. EVs are the place where you can see it beginning to happen more and more because it's going mainstream, but we still haven't reached it yet.

Given the context shared by these experts and the tensions between optimism and reality, we wanted to use this edition to create a clear rule for our coverage:

One Rule: As UrbanTech continues to explore the future of climate tech, we aim to balance the optimism and skepticism required for this space. City technologies and urban policy will need to find ways to work with each other to drive the future of the space forward.

Below is the list of companies submitted by our community for inclusion in this series.

Our most controversial inclusion is Stripe, but I think the companies work on climate tech warrants inclusion and we’ll plan to deep dive similar to the piece we wrote last fall on Allbirds making the case it should be considered urban technology.

List of Clean Tech Companies UT is Following:

  1. Aurora
  2. BlocPower
  3. Codegreen
  4. Enertiv
  5. EVgo
  6. Patch
  7. PlugPower
  8. Stripe Climate
  9. Nikola Motors (New mobility tech company we are tracking)
  10. Lucid Motors (New mobility tech company we are tracking)
  11. Proterra
  12. 75F
UrbanTech Market Map Series #2: Zooming into Energy Tech

John Thomey

John Thomey is a founder of Urban Tech, a newsletter and podcast. He’s a graduate student at the University of Southern California, studying Public Policy and Urban Planning.

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