For pretty much every startup, there’s a perilous period that occurs after things are up and running but the money isn’t flowing. Called the “valley of death,” the conundrum is especially challenging for climate tech startups, which tend to have a longer time to revenue than something like a payments SaaS, making the valley that much longer and more treacherous.
With some hard tech problems, whether they be fusion power, carbon capture or mushroom-based leather, another valley of death happens even earlier.
Traditionally, this is how it has worked: Founders start with government grants and pitches to attract investors. Particularly good pitches might convince more traditional investors to join larger seed rounds. But for many, the best way to cross the valley of death isn’t to bring more cash but to find the shortest route through it.
That’s the idea behind a new partnership between Collaborative Fund and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute. TechCrunch+ has exclusively learned that the venture capital firm is giving the Wyss Institute $15 million to build a lab focused on sustainable materials research, and in return it will get first crack at technologies and companies that come out of the institute.
“Moving the needle slightly is not going to have any real impact. We need to completely reimagine, completely reinvent what we already have,” Sophie Bakalar, partner at Collaborative Fund, told TechCrunch+. “Our objective is not just to fund these really breakthrough technologies, but find a way to get them out of the lab and into our lives.”