The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international scientific body of the United Nations, recently concluded its sixth report by providing solutions to mitigate climate change. Its conclusion is alarming: to prevent the disastrous consequences of global warming, investors must heavily finance climate innovations and support the sustainable development of lower-income countries. This is the core idea behind impact investing, and it can have ripple effects. Not only is financing sustainable development a starting point to reducing climate risks and building resilience, but it also incentivizes regulators and citizens to develop and implement climate policies and changes.
The global movement for more responsible investments might soon be supported by regulators. The Security and Exchange Commission recently proposed that US public companies be required to disclose both climate risks that might endanger their activities and their climate footprint. On the global scene, the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundations announced that it will develop sustainability disclosure standards that will help investors understand the risks and opportunities associated with companies open for investment.
Startups are constantly creating sustainable solutions, and impact investments are increasing. KingsCrowd’s 2021 Market Intelligence Report shows that online investments in social impact companies reached close to $100 million last year, representing 28% of all online startup investments. That’s nearly twice the amount invested in companies with social impact in 2020, which was $56 million.
In March, 28 new impact investment deals became available online. One of the high-tech solutions, KingsCrowd Deal to Watch HEVO, is easing the transition to more sustainable transportation by introducing universal wireless electric vehicles charging. As the economy is becoming more digital, Nimbus is using charging technology to improve the lifetime of warehouse robots’ lithium batteries by up to 5x. On the low-tech side, Mediloq is offering a solution to reuse child-safe containers and drastically reduce plastic waste. KingsCrowd Top Deal Cabinet Health is also innovating pharmaceutical packaging by providing compostable packaging.
Happy impact investing!
Cabinet Health – Top Deal (Sustainable Goods)
Single-use plastic packaging is widely used across industries for its affordability, convenience, and moisture resistance. Unfortunately, most of it ends up in landfills or the ocean, where it can take centuries to disintegrate into harmful microplastics. Companies like Cabinet Health are starting to use compostable packaging as an alternative to plastic. Cabinet Health focuses on high-quality, everyday medicine delivered in innovative and sustainable packaging. Cabinet Health has filed 13 patents for its refillable medicine system, and the medicine of the company is third-party batch tested. Cabinet Health has generated $27.7 million in cumulative revenue, with a 113% compound annual growth rate from 2018 to 2021.
Drivers are increasingly adopting electric vehicles (EVs) in the United States, but charging infrastructure is lagging behind. Not only is the charging network underdeveloped compared to the growth of electric vehicles sales, but charger plugs differ across car models. HEVO has developed wireless EV charging technology that meets universal safety and performance standards. HEVO is building the global wireless charging standard for EVs to make EV charging simple and universal with its widely adaptable chargers and integrated EV transportation app. HEVO has done successful pilots with major auto and energy companies and has a robust intellectual property portfolio.
Nimbus – Neutral Deal – (Energy)
As the e-commerce sector is growing, many warehouses use robots to fulfill their client’s orders. For hours each day, these robots need to stop operating to charge their lithium batteries. Some lithium batteries are changed every two to three years. Because of the limited availability of lithium batteries and the high carbon dioxide emissions linked to their production, changing batteries at this frequency is costly and unsustainable. Nimbus increases the lifetime of batteries and allows robots to work around the clock by using advanced energy transfer technology to power heavy-duty industrial automation. Nimbus’ patented power relay technology powers warehouse robotics and electric vehicles by harnessing the energy of LED and solar light. Nimbus is currently negotiating a robotics project with Amazon.
Mediloq – Neutral Deal
In the United States, 4.4 billion retail prescriptions are filled every year. Most of them are packaged in single-use containers that are harmful to the environment. Mediloq makes and sells plastic-free, closed-loop, and child-safe containers for pharmaceutical, supplement, and cannabis manufacturers. The company will collect and wash its child-safe containers to reuse them. The containers of Mediloq are safe and sustainable alternatives to disposable plastic packaging and remain child-safe over a lifetime of reuses and refills. Mediloq has already sold 8,000 units with $200,000 in orders and has 25 wholesale accounts.
CopperSmith – Neutral Deal
In the United States, only 30% of copper comes from recycled sources. To limit the impact of its metal use on the environment, CopperSmith partially uses recycled copper in its products. The company has developed a technology-driven platform that provides convenient access to metalworkers across the US and around the world. The platform connects consumers with the ideal solution for their custom metalwork requirements. CopperSmith has generated more than $30 million in orders and more than 10,000 successful retail transactions.
International maritime transportation is key to the world’s economy. But it is responsible for 3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to global warming. Reducing or eliminating the fuel consumption of this industry is key to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals. Magnuss is a maritime shipping company that provides a wind-based propulsion system for global shipping. The system is a high-tech sail and is called the Magnuss VOSS or Vertically-variable Ocean Sail System. The Magnuss VOSS helps to reduce fuel consumption up to 50%, reduce emissions, and minimize costs.
Maritime transportation is key to the global economy, but it is heavily fuel-dependent and contributes to ocean pollution. Flying Ship Technologies is building autonomous, unmanned, wing-in-ground-effect vessels to deliver goods to hard-to-reach destinations. The company’s technology combines green technologies and aerodynamics to reduce vessel costs, improve energy efficiency, and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. The vessels of Flying Ship Technologies have zero carbon dioxide emissions, are 10x faster than ships, and have fewer regulations than aircraft.
About 27% of US greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, making it the largest contributor to US greenhouse emissions. Using traditional public transportation can reduce transportation emissions per person by 30%. However, public transportation still produces some greenhouse gasses. Swift Rails is offering a new way of transportation with its on-demand personal vehicles working with zero emissions. The autonomous vehicles are powered by electric motors and use renewable energy. Swift Rails has partnered with a well-established national transportation practice and has the support of a top engineering university. It has a growing sales pipeline already, with $200 million in good-to-excellent opportunities.
Health & Medicine
HitCheck – Neutral Deal
In the United States, more than 3.8 million concussions occur annually due to sports injuries. Oftentimes, concussions go undiagnosed, which can lead to long-term consequences. HitCheck has developed a patented technology similar to a video game that screens nine cognitive brain functions in just seven minutes. The technology is aimed at detecting concussions among athletes and military personnel. HitCheck serves the US Department of Defense and has secured a key partnership with the NFL Alumni Association.
In the United States, about 17% of children between ages two and eight have mental, behavioral, or developmental health disorders. Unfortunately, many children do not receive treatment. Left untreated, these disorders can worsen during adolescence. TrueGen Health is developing technology and AI for pediatric behavioral health providers to treat children more effectively. The platform aims to improve access and quality of pediatric behavioral healthcare and amplify the efforts of providers and specialists. TrueGen Health works on a subscription-based model and generated revenue of $325,000 in its first year of business.
Cancer causes almost 10 million deaths every year worldwide. Current drugs and treatments are often toxic – killing cancer as well as normal cells – and have no safe delivery method. SciTech Development is a pharmaceutical company focused on advancing breakthrough cancer treatments. The company has developed SDP, its proprietary drug delivery platform, which helps to develop and deliver new and better drugs for cancers. SciTech Development is also on its way to beginning clinical trials for ST-001, a potential drug for the treatment of lymphoma.
An estimated 91% of opioid users in recovery will relapse. That relapse rate is higher than with any other type of drug. Opiates have long-lasting impacts on brain functions, and these result in intense withdrawal symptoms that create a greater likelihood of relapse. Speranza Therapeutics is a medical device and biotechnology company that makes and distributes medical devices and generic drugs to treat a variety of diseases. The company is developing S.T. Genesis, a medical device to help reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms, and Soothe-OM, a muco-adhesive product to treat oral mucositis.
Musculoskeletal diseases impact 50% of United States adults over the age of 18 and 75% of people over the age of 65. The most common types of musculoskeletal diseases include arthritis, back pain, and trauma. Echo Mind AI has developed technology that uses AI and ultrasound to capture and provide musculoskeletal pathology predictions. The technology of Echo Mind AI will help provide effective immediate diagnosis at a low cost. Echo Mind AI has already achieved 95% prediction accuracy for tendon tears. Max Harker founded Echo Mind AI in June 2021.
Cartilage degradation in knees can cause bones to experience more friction and impact, often leading to bone spurs, cysts and bone marrow lesions. KneeVoice is developing a non-invasive device that monitors cartilage degradation in the knees. The platform is being built with neural network, artificial intelligence, and machine learning capabilities and will capture sounds, vibrations, and positions emitted by the knee to monitor the health of knee joints. KneeVoice has filed FDA pre-submission in January 2022 and completed clinical trials in several health centers in the US.
Black students are less likely to get a college degree than white students. Among the barriers generating this inequality, Black students have less access to admissions process information. To help them access the information that they need, the HBCU HUB App has developed a platform that connects students to admission recruiters and coaches at Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country. It is the only app with an HBCU matchmaker that streamlines user data to admission recruiters and tracks students’ academic progress. The HBCU HUB App is used in 80 countries worldwide and has been ranked among the top 100 most educational apps in the world.
Employees that go through traditional learning methods retain only 5% of the knowledge received. Meanwhile, those who learn through experience retain 90% of information. Learnie offers mobile, on-demand community micro-learning to hone the critical thinking capability of learners. The app includes user-generated videos and private cohort-based knowledge sharing aimed at community engagement and cognitive breaks. Learnie has successfully sold the app to three enterprise customers and has won several awards since 2020.
Fuel consumption is among the causes of global warming, but the transition to zero-carbon energy sources will require time. While electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles are slowly gaining market shares, efforts to reduce the impact of fuel can be made immediately. TRILLION is a green fuel development and production company that produces high-performance and low-emission fuels. The company’s water in diesel nano-emulsion fuel technology, HydroDiesel+, delivers impressive greenhouse gas reductions and operating cost benefits compared to many other hydrocarbon fuels.
In the United States, electricity is currently produced through the use of approximately 19% coal, 40% natural gas, 20% renewables and 20% nuclear energy. Therefore, at least 80% of US electricity is produced out of non-renewable sources and either emits greenhouse gasses or has radioactivity risks. Scientists around the world are currently working on the development of fusion, an energy less radioactive than nuclear fission with a nearly unlimited supply. Unfortunately, the technology is not ready for commercial use. Both public and private entities are trying to develop this technique to produce electricity. Among them, NearStar Fusion is working on developing a commercial fusion power plant designed to create a limitless supply of clean energy for the planet. The physicists and engineers at NearStar Fusion are developing Hypervelocity Gradient Field Fusion as the less expensive approach to fusion by 2032.
Inverters are a critical part of solar energy. They convert the energy captured by solar panels into the energy sent to electrical power grids. Therefore, when inverters fail, so does the transfer of renewable energy. Inverter failures have caused 43% of solar power system failures. InfiniRel has developed an early warning system that solves the problem of unreliability with renewable energy and electric vehicles. The reliable and scalable early warning system of infiniRel predicts power electronic failures. InfiniRel has patents granted for the US and key European markets and expects to reach $160 million in revenue by 2026.
Hydrogen has the potential to replace fuel, powering cars and other transportation engines without emitting carbon dioxide. But the production of hydrogen remains a concern, as it requires large quantities of electricity. However, hydrogen may be sustainable when produced thanks to renewable energies such as solar or biomass. H2 Energy Group plans to construct a renewable hydrogen production facility and install five hydrogen refueling stations along the I-5 highway. The business will use its scalable and modular technology to convert renewable woody biomass into low-cost, hydrogen-rich syngas.
Currently, close to 90% of Americans want to volunteer, but only 25% of them are actually engaging in volunteering activities. PlusMedia Solutions has developed a multi-sided software platform that connects people to positive social impact causes. The users can visit the platform and search for curated and vetted social impact opportunities of their interest in one click. PlusMedia Solutions operates in the specific areas of social and environmental impact and facilitates collaboration among the client segments.
Globally, more than 60% of ski resorts use artificial snow to compensate for the effects of climate change on the shortening of the ski season and decreased snowfall. Therefore, ski areas use 50 to 400 million gallons of water each season to make snow, and 67% of the energy ski resorts consume goes to making artificial snow. ReNewSnow has created technology to make no-carbon, low-cost snow. The company’s patented system, SnowPod, aims to reverse the age-old process of snowmaking, lower the cost of snowmaking by 30%, and dramatically reduce its carbon footprint. ReNewSnow’s technology is reengineering the way water is sourced by making high-elevation water easy to source.
Around 3 million senior adults are treated in American emergency rooms every year due to falls. Of the 36 million seniors who experience falls every year, there are a resulting 32,000 deaths. Stride Tech Medical makes smart walkers with an attachment technology that prevents falls. The first product of Stride Tech Medical, StrideTech Go, is an innovative walker that monitors and corrects walker misuse to prevent injury. The United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Patent Cooperation Treaty have approved the company’s technology after three years of research.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The entertainment and media industry is influential from an early age. It participates in creating watchers’ representation of the world and a sense of belonging in society. Unfortunately, more than 70% of actors in popular US movies are white, which also adds barriers to the careers of non-white actors. To increase diversity in media, Four Screens makes movies and TV shows that highlight stories of people of color, women, and underrepresented communities. The company has generated $1.2 million in the last three years.
Only 4% of Black-owned businesses are still in business after three and a half years of operations. However, more than 45% of American consumers want to see more support for Black-owned brands and suppliers. Roog has developed a marketplace for shoppers to discover and purchase diverse products and services from underrepresented businesses. The platform allows users to search for underrepresented businesses in their local communities and increase their sales opportunities through mobile orders and purchases. Roog has more than 1,000 businesses registered and more than 500 user downloads in the Apple App Store.
Food and Agriculture
The high quantities of meat eaten by the growing world population have an effect on climate change and, in some cases, on health. But for those who look for meatless restaurant alternatives, options are often scarce. Dharma Southern Kitchen makes and sells plant-based Southern comfort food across Florida. The plant-based food of Dharma Southern Kitchen appeals to vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians, and meat eaters alike.
Wave Soda Company makes happy and refreshing drinks with soda water, natural caffeine, and other natural ingredients. The unique formulation of Wave Sodas makes the brand a healthy alternative to traditional sodas, with only 15 to 40 calories per can. Wave Soda Company gives 1% of its annual sales to the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit working to keep beaches clean.
The Cut Buddy makes haircuts and grooming easier and more affordable with its innovative products. The products of The Cut Buddy are inclusively and ergonomically designed to give users the confidence and ability to do it themselves. The Cut Buddy donates part of its proceeds to veteran’s mental health and dexterity disabilities. The company has also participated in training barbers in Kenya through the Cross World Africa Barber Project.
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About: Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau
Léa is passionate about impact investing and sustainability. Prior to KingsCrowd, she worked for Stanford’s accelerator, StartX, helping to select the most promising entrepreneurs. She also led the first award-winning study on the Malawian startup ecosystem. In her free-time, she volunteers to help entrepreneurs in Cameroon, Brazil and Colombia. Léa holds a degree in Anthropology from France and is currently enrolled in the UC Davis MBA program.