On August 17 - we are partnering with QLD Chief Entrepreneur for a Queensland Climate Tech Showcase - featuring demonstrations, Climate Tech pitches and a panel with Australia’s leading investors including Manadalay Venture Partners. We sat down with Phil to discover their thesis and find out why climate tech is agri and food tech.
Philippe Ceulen is a venture builder, innovation strategist and community expert. He is a Partner at Mandalay Venture Partners, a specialist agrifood tech venture capital firm.
- Why is it important for Mandalay Venture Partners to support the Climate Tech sector in Queensland?
Sustainability is now everyone’s business with climate and emissions affecting almost all sectors, and it is part of every conversation. And so it should be.
As a result, we are seeing lots of momentum, new ideas and early-stage companies taking on the challenge of building efficiencies in the sustainability and climate tech sectors. As a venture fund, this amount of opportunity is very exciting and we know we have a vital role to play when it comes to supporting founders to bring the ideas to life. Our role is to spot opportunities, invest early and build great companies. This is our commitment to climate-related impact: enabling the commercial success of companies and as a result help to unlock their true potential.
Successful implementation of solutions relating to climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience requires a village. As an ecosystem builder we understand this well. For years we have laid the necessary foundations by participating in the innovation community, and are well placed to support the convergence of both fields: innovation and sustainability.
To rise up to the challenge, our participation is crucial. Everyone is on a steep learning curve, including us, and new thinking emerges every day. It is inspiring and humbling to work alongside smart people leading incredible initiatives. It is why we do, what we do.
- Mandalay traditionally invests in farm to fork innovation - where do you see the crossover/intersection of this sector and Climate Tech?
There is no sector that is more affected by our changing climate than the agrifood sector. It is pressured to increase productivity to sustainably feed the world’s growing population and to reduce its own contribution to GHG emissions while dealing with the effects of changing climate including but not limited to extreme weather events.
Moving the needle requires investment across the entire value chain, from farm to fork including our supply chains. We therefore see climate tech not necessarily as a vertical but rather being highly enmeshed across the entire system.
There are lots of opportunities for climate positive impact across the sector and to date we have invested in several companies who are clearly demonstrating this: Tomkat Koolpak builds towards cleaner supply chains by providing alternatives to using polystyrene, Monty empowers more people to compost and sequester carbon, Agtuary offers better climate data-driven decision making tools for investment in agriculture. We’re ramping up investment activities so expect many more to come!
We often refer to a quote by Julian Sanchez, Director of Emerging Technology at John Deere, who said “Environmental sustainability and profitability are in fact one and the same”.
In our experience, founders who have a clear vision relating to positive climate impact also are the ones who are thinking about the future of their industries overall and have long term strategic foresight. They think big, and are bullish about execution.
- You’re also partnering with QLD Government to deliver the Low Carbon Accelerator, how do you startups apply, get involved?
The Low Carbon Accelerator reflects Queensland Government’s commitment to bridging the gap between the innovation ecosystem and industry. We have incredible innovators in QLD and a real decarbonisation challenge. The program will offer strategic and financial support to startups to deliver pilot projects with industry that can demonstrate potential to reduce overall carbon emissions.
Joining the Climate Tech Showcase is a great place to network with the QLD Climate Tech community and to connect to the program delivery team. Secondly, check out lowcarbonqld.com for more information and how to apply. And finally, startups can reach out to me directly if they have any questions.
- What excites you most about the climate tech sector?
Frankly the energy and the momentum, and the rate of innovation is just exciting and we are now seeing the sector move from fringe discussions to actual deployment into industry. Climate and sustainability, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is really helping to move the innovation conversation from building widgets to tackling real challenges within the economy. It provides a North Star that is aspirational, and has shown its ability to gather pretty incredible people.
The fact that low carbon and climate solutions are now in a position to significantly impact the bottom line for users means we are reaching a tipping point. Across the agrifood sector, low carbon technologies are not just creating efficiencies in traditional practices, but also providing significant cost savings across the whole supply chain stack. There is no better time than now to drive adoption in this space.
- QLD Government has announced a $2B Hydrogen taskforce and the Olympics are set to be the most sustainable yet, could QLD become the climate tech powerhouse for solutions and jobs across Australia if not the world?
I’m hopeful that 10 years of uninterrupted policy, focus and investment on climate related innovation could get us there. As an example, we feel encouraged by the publication of the recent 10-year “Innovation for a Future Economy 2022-32” roadmap by Advance Queensland.
Whilst all of this is great, it doesn’t mean it is straightforward. To become a real climate tech powerhouse, we will need to shift our mindset and culture and think more competitively about our position in the global marketplace. Solve our local challenges, yes, but without losing track of the global opportunities at hand.
At Mandalay, we are strong believers in strengthening our relationships with Southeast Asia, representing a significant part of our future economy. From farmgate to technology deployment to industry engagement, we have the opportunity to be a leader for the region but it will take innovative policy, mechanisms to support advancement and incentives for industry to change habits.
It’s time for all of us to seize the opportunity QLD has and wave the “Greensland” flag proudly.