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Elemental Excelerator

Elemental Excelerator

Elemental Excelerator is a nonprofit organization and accelerator program for funding and launching new climate technology companies and projects.

Overview

Elemental Excelerator is a nonprofit organization offering an accelerator program that funds and launches companies and projects focusing on technologies related to climate change, deploying programs in the communities that need them. The firm funds fifteen to twenty companies per year; it decides which companies best fit its mission and will fund those companies up to $1 million to improve systems in energy, transportation, water, circular economy, and agriculture. As of 2021, Elemental Excelerator has awarded $43 million to 177 startups and seventy-one projects for $1.5 billion in follow-on funding, with 87 percent of active portfolio companies generating revenue.

Platform
Ecosystem

Elemental Excelerator offers its funded companies an ecosystem to help them grow. This network includes more than 700 investors that the firm works to connect those companies with; 1:1 strategy sessions with Elemental Excelerator's investors in residence, financier in residence, and COO in residence; they work to connect those startups and projects with corporate partners who are capable of deploying alongside portfolio companies; and they introduce portfolio companies to a community of CEOs and leaders to help portfolio companies grow. Further, the ecosystem includes support for portfolio companies from members with sector expertise and their networks, and policy support for project deployments.

Partners and investors

Through the platform, Elemental Excelerator works to facilitate introductions among startups, investors, and partners that are capable of supporting the growth of the climate technology industry through direct investment or commercial opportunities. These partners have included Emerson Collective, U.S. Department of Energy, National Grid Partners, SK Gas, Cummins, Engie, Equinor, Conservation International, Ulupono, American Savings Bank, Schneider Electric, Kilroy, SoftBank, and EDF Innovation Lab.

Funding

For Elemental Excelerators funding opportunities, they offer three different tracks for startups and companies to apply. These are the Strategy Track, Project Track, and Global Track.

Strategy Track

The Strategy Track works with companies at any stage and in any location. This funding track offers $200,000 in funding, along with support to address the areas of market intelligence, operational scale-up, equity and access, sales and growth, messaging, and fundraising. As a nonprofit organization, Elemental Excelerator asks for an equity donation to the program, with a philosophy that when a portfolio company succeeds that the program succeeds.

The program runs from fall of the year, which includes onboarding and contracting, while all online and in-person programming modules occur during winter and spring of the following year. Some of these program elements include the Kickoff Week, a CxO Summit, and Interactive program, when investors are introduced to the company for further funding opportunities.

This funding track looks for companies with diverse and experienced teams with knowledge of their industries and a track record of execution, and the program expects the CEO and one additional executive team member to attend. It looks for companies with scalable solutions with growth potential beyond a home market and technology that has been validated by a third party and market demand. Further, they look for track fit, and for a company to be at the right stage of growth to work with Elemental.

The Strategy Track does not fund companies with fewer than two full-time employees, without an operating prototype, companies selling third-party products, consulting firms, marketing or PR agencies, nonprofits, or acquired startups.

Project Track

For the Elemental Excelerator's Project Track, the organization looks to fund a new piece of technology, a new business model, or a technology deployment in Hawai'i or California's frontline communities. This track invests $500,000 into the project to help startups with the risk of building something the firm considers transformational. Other than funding, the Project Track also offers stakeholder introductions, community engagement, equity and access model for deployment, and project management support. Through this track, for funding and support, Elemental Excelerator also emphasizes they ask for an equity donation, following the same philosophy mentioned above.

When looking at companies to accept into the Project Track, the Elemental Excelerator looks for diverse and experienced teams with knowledge of their industries and a proven track record of execution, as well as a team that can support multiple project deployment and with at least one full-time project manager. They look for companies with a scalable business model and an appetite for expansion and typically look for funding for companies in a Series A or beyond with at least one paying customer.

Further, they look for projects with a concept that could offer a large impact that lines up with a company's core business strategy. As well, the firm looks to fund projects that can scale at least ten times after completion and should be capable of continuing to use the technology after its implementation. It also looks for projects to be a new piece of technology or business model. Project funding is used to help buy-down deployment risk, which means Elemental Excelerator does not pay for the whole project, but rather structures deployment under a 50-50 cost-share model.

The Project Track follows the same timeline as the Strategy Track, with onboarding happening in fall of the preceding year, followed by the project finalization, execution, and closeout through winter and spring of the following year. And the core program elements remain the same. Further, the Project Track does not fund companies with fewer than two full-time team members, without an operating prototype, selling third-party products, consulting firms, marketing or PR agencies, nonprofits, and acquired startups.

Global Track

Elemental Excelerator's Global Track offers $300,000 funding into growth-stage companies, beyond Series B, into projects capable of scaling around the world. This funding track seeks investments into mature, high-impact startups that are looking to expand commercially. In these investments, Elemental Excelerator plays a lighter role in project and stakeholder support than the organization does in its Strategy and Project Tracks. Similar to those tracks, the organization as a nonprofit asks for equity donations based on their philosophy of mutual success.

The Global Track looks for companies looking to expand beyond Series B, but also with at least five paying customers in at least two geographic locations. Further, they look for a project concept which can possibly have a high-impact and looks for projects that can be completed in sixteen months and are capable of scaling by at least ten times after completion. The organization requires a letter of intent (LOI) with a cost-share customer. And looks for each project and team to include an Equity and Access component, capable of speaking to the history and culture of each place.

The timeline of the Global Track is the same as other funding tracks, with onboarding and contracting happening the preceding fall and followed by project finalization, execution, and closeout through winter and spring the following year. The core program elements of this track include the same elements as the other programs. The Global Track also does not work with companies with fewer than two full-time team members, without an operating prototype, selling third-party products, consulting firms, marketing or PR agencies, nonprofits, and acquired startups.

Elemental Projects

In 2009, Elemental Excelerator launched a new non-profit model for funding climate technology deployments. This has included funding over seventy projects across systems at the root of climate changes.

Earthshot Ventures

In late 2021, Earthshot Ventures was spun out of Elemental Excelerator. Earthshot Ventures is a venture capital fund launched to support entrepreneurs tackling climate change announced its first close of $60 million. The fund was designed to bring new and existing networks together in the climate technology space. Earthshot is backed by limited partners including Emerson Collective, John Doerr, Tom Steyer, McKinley Alaska, Microsoft, Employees' Retirement System of Hawaii, Stafford Capital Partners, Chris Cox, David Crane, and Impact Engine. From Dawn Lippert, founding partner of Earthshot Ventures:

We built Earthshot Ventures to increase catalytic funding for bold and diverse founders who are transforming markets. Earthshot gives us a new tool to help founders tackle enormous challenges, while providing investors access to the world's biggest growth opportunity: combating climate change.

Earthshot Ventures has also partnered with Launch Alaska, a clean technology accelerator and deployment engine, which has partnered with Earthshot Ventures to provide deal flow and access to customer networks.

Square Partnerships
Visualization of Elemental Excelerator's Square Partnerships Model.

Square Partnerships is a model used by Elemental Excelerator through which the organization approaches startups. Through what they call a bottom-up approach, Elemental Excelerator uses the Square partnerships to encourage startups to collaborate with three key stakeholders from the start to the finish of a project.

The process of the Square Partnership starts with a commitment letter, for which Elemental Excelerator offers a template, and includes a community partnership agreement before there is compensation. This includes a meeting structure and cadence to ensure the partnership works for all sides. And the Square Partnerships includes a toolkit with lessons learned that are recommended to maximize the benefit of using the Square Partnerships Model. Elemental Excelerator has found that the partnership model enables stewardship and relationship development, in addition to more profit and a mutually beneficial model.

Elemental Policy Lab

The Elemental Policy Lab works to solve issues of environmental protection, equity, human health, inclusive governance, and prosperity. The lab finds these issues are interlinked and works to find solutions to these crises through technological innovation and entrepreneurship to re-envision and reshape solutions, including policy.

Elemental Excelerator posits two reasons for creating the Elemental Policy Lab. The first reason is the organization's view that entrepreneurs are a key to the country's economic growth, but are absent from or underrepresented in policy conversations. The policy lab works to amplify the ability for entrepreneurs to formulate and share ideas for what policymakers could do to support climate innovation. The second reason is that the policy labs wants to bring the entrepreneurial spirit, the community of practice, and the firms commitment to equity, along with its understanding of successful climate and cleantech innovation into policy realms.

With this in mind, the Elemental Policy Lab works to create a platform capable of connecting entrepreneurs and policymakers to work together to find and support solutions to the problems they seek to solve. Further, they work to develop a platform capable of uplifting the voices of policymakers, community activists, political leaders, and entrepreneurs who have clear, innovative policy ideas that can benefit from the support the Elemental Excelerator offers.

Timeline

September 8, 2021
Elemental Excelerator Unveils Earthshot Ventures, a new climate technology fund.
September 7, 2021
Elemental Excelerator announces first Policy Lab fellows to accelerate and scale innovative climate solutions.
July 25, 2018
Elemental Excelerator raises a $30,000,000 grant from United States Navy.
September 6, 2013
Elemental Excelerator raises a $30,000,000 grant from United States Navy.

Funding Rounds

Invested in

Patents

Funding Rounds Participated In

Further Resources

Title
Author
Link
Type
Date

Climate tech accelerator Elemental starts early-stage Earthshot venture fund | Greenbiz

Heather Clancy

Web

September 9, 2021

Elemental Excelerator Unveils Earthshot Ventures, a New Climate Technology Fund

Elemental Excelerator

Web

September 8, 2021

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References

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