Giant Leap’s Small Steps: Climate and femtech investment, and the hunt for health startups

- September 16, 2021 3 MIN READ
climate change protest

Welcome to Giant Leap’s Small Steps, a newsletter offering global insights and news on the impact startups landscape. We’ll be sharing an edited version with Startup Daily readers every fortnight.

Giant Leap is Australia’s first impact venture fund, and they use this newsletter to surface the ideas and businesses that intrigue and inspire them and broaden their own thinking on impact business.

You can catch Giant Leap partner Rachel Yang on the Startup Daily show on ausbiz.com.au, offering insights on the impact of the startup ecosystem.

Here’s what they have to say this week.


Kick start

Globally, the climate startups surge continues. Climate Tech VC reports $16 billion invested into the space in H1 2021 (almost as much as the entire amount invested in 2020).

Consistent new fund raises are firming up future investment, with recent news including Earthshot announcing a $60m cleantech fund spinning out of the Elemental Excelerator (which has accelerated companies like Full Cycle Bioplastics). Meanwhile, Volkswagen is joining the party with a $335m VC fund for decarbonisation.

Our question is, is investment going where it’s most needed?

Sources: World Resources Institute and Climate Tech VC via Bloomberg Green

According to Climate Tech VC, the top areas by deal count for VCs are Food and Water, and Mobility – which matches well to food, agriculture, and water being the number 1 culprit emitter and transport being in the top 3. In Australia, recent high profile raises like V2 Foods and Regrow in the food space point to the work being done at home.

However, we see a glaring gap (opportunity?) in buildings (#2 emitter), which produce emissions primarily from heating, cooling, lighting, and running appliances powered by a predominantly fossil-fuel based energy mix.

Additionally, if you combine these emissions with the embodied carbon of metals and cement (#5 emitter), solving the value chain of the buildings in which we live and work might be one of our biggest levers for decarbonisation.

What we’re thinking about

From uncomfortable breast pumps to dehumanising fertility tests, products for women have historically faced a user-builder mismatch because most engineers were men. Thankfully, a new generation of women builders are driving a renaissance for femtech; health technology that focuses on women’s needs.

Australian startups like Ovira (reducing period pain) and Milkdrop (more comfortable breast pumps) are leading the charge, while international startup Maven Clinic (fertility services) just reached unicorn status.

This year alone, femtech startups have globally raised a total $1.1 billion according to Pitchbook data, and the sector is set to be worth over $US75 billion by 2026 (while the market for erectile dysfunction is set to stand still at US$3b).

Feeling lonely? You aren’t alone.

Economist and author, Noreena Hertz, says that one in five millennials say they don’t have a single friend and women in particular became more lonely during the pandemic. Tech-enabled distance and predominantly negative forums for connection (*ahem* the social media scroll) are no doubt fuelling the problem, but can tech to redeem itself?

US VC firm A16Z is interested in companies delving into what it calls “distanced intimacy”. It doesn’t shy away from the inherent challenges of teletherapy – quality of care, supply of therapists, data privacy – but suggests an adjusted view of teletherapy can bring out its benefits, including the fact some people feel they can be more honest, and therefore intimate, via a distanced medium.

New career paths

There are now 80+ more jobs on the Giant Leap Fund jobs board and more jobs at ethical companies on the global B-Work job board.

For the road

ANDHealth just opened applications to take 25 new companies into its program after receiving a $19 million grant from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).

US VC Andrew Chen explains that premature scaling puts your company in a battle with user churn, and on a treadmill where it has to run full pace to stand still.

We’re excited for the (virtual) launch of the StartUp Vic Duct Tape podcast on Tuesday October 5th, showcasing some fantastic Victorian startups that you don’t hear too much from.

Toilets are good for for a sit and think, but they might also be great for keeping track of your health.

Speaking of virtual events, we’re also really excited for the Future of Materials expo on September 30 at Cicada Innovations.

Terracycle has a heap of free programs are available to dispose of just about any good in your household. Razors, make-up – you name it, they probably have a way to recycle it.