Showing posts from 2023
If you are working in the high-tech sector or are at a startup, the first half of 2023 was definitely a roller coaster. We saw venture funding dry up for many sectors; saw the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank - the bank where many startups and venture capital funds kept their money; and observed layoffs happen in the technology giants - Google, Facebook, Apple and others. In fact, one of the VC firms, Cervin, did an analysis showing that venture funding has been at an all-time low this year, with only 19 mega deals being signed in Q1 2023 compared to 98 the previous year; funding fell by 53% for angel and seed funding and by 30% for Series A rounds. In fact, except for companies focusing on generative AI and AI adjacent technology in the high-tech sector, it has been an exceptionally difficult year financially. How did the clean-tech sector fare? Unsurprisingly, while there were some impacts on startups and their ability to raise additional funds from venture capital firms, the se

Happy World Environment Day!

Here's to our beautiful blue dot - with all the mountains, oceans, forests, grasslands, animal and plant life that inhabit it. If there's one thing that we as a species can do, it's doing our best to protect our world - for after all, there is no Planet B.  

What’s the impact of your smartphone? Mapping the distribution and environmental impact of mines around the world

How many different materials go into making your smartphone? According to the American Chemical Society, at least 64 different types of chemicals constitute your smartphone . Many of these materials, particularly the heavy earth metals, are extracted from the Earth through mining operations. Mining has been a part of human society for several thousand years now - from the shallow mines of earlier centuries to the more extractive ones created in the last hundred years. The challenge of mining and other extractive industries is that they are essential to many of our needs today - coal for energy, silicon for solar panels and heavy earths for electronics being among the well known ones. At the same time, they cause significant damage to local environments through the disturbance to the land caused by establishing the mine itself, to environmental impacts on water, land and ecosystems from mining operations.   So far, it’s been difficult to map the spatial extent and environmental impact o

Water tech startups in 2023 - where in the world are they?

What are some of the interesting startups in the water sector this year? Water tech typically does not get funded at the same rate as other clean technology sectors - primarily because the time to achieve an acceptable ROI for venture funds is usually longer than the lifecycle of the fund. However, there are still VCs who are interested in funding the water sector and there are always startups that find government funding, partnerships and other ways to build and grow. Let’s take a look at some startups that are combining data science and water to help solve interesting problems! 1. Ainwater , headquartered out of Chile, uses AI-based algorithms to optimize water and wastewater plant operations, ensuring compliance while increasing energy efficiency by 30%. 2. CivilGrid , in the San Francisco Bay Area, helps collect all the geospatial and regulatory information required for water companies and other infrastructure companies to plan their operations. 3. IFlux , out of Belgium, uses a co

Tipping points and the Earth's climate - how do we model the risk?

In April, the IPCC published the next installment of reports on the state of the planet . Several alarms on the state of the planet were sounded - and yet, most researchers were concerned that the report did not go far enough. Why was that? One of the challenges with synthesizing science across multiple areas and bringing it to the point where policy makers can make decisions that follow the science is that the latest research often doesn’t make it into these reports. That’s because the research is cutting-edge, which by definition means that new discoveries are happening and the science is not yet at the point where clear recommendations can be made. Second, with cutting-edge science, researchers are still discussing the nitty-gritty details of what the processes are, what’s driving them and how the system is functioning. That makes it much more difficult to reach a scientific consensus on the topic.   So, what is one such area of cutting edge research in climate science? Climate chan