Venture fund ETV launches to back energy transition tech start-ups

Energy Transition Ventures

Energy Transition Ventures (ETV) has launched as the first venture fund in Texas exclusively dedicated to investing in energy transition technologies. Founded in the world’s energy capital by cleantech startup executives and venture capitalists Craig Lawrence and Neal Dikeman, with anchor investment from two operating companies from the GS Group of Korea, the fund is investing in early-stage startups in North America. Investments will focus on companies driving or benefitting from the energy transition off fossil fuels, across categories including distributed energy, electrification, mobility, and resource efficiency.

ETV closed its first capital in February 2021, completed its first investment in March, and is expected to close new investors for a total fund size of $75 million. Lawrence and Dikeman previously helped launch and manage cleantech investing at Accel Partners, Jane Capital, and Shell Technology Ventures, as well as held operating roles in solar and smart grid startups.

“We’re excited to be investing in ETV and in the future of energy,” said Tae Huh, Managing Director of GS Futures, the Silicon Valley-based corporate venture capital arm of energy, construction, and retail conglomerate GS Group of Korea. “Energy Transition Ventures is our first investment from the new GS Futures fund, and we’ve already run successful pilots in Korea with three US startups even before this fund closed an investment – we are working to accelerate the old model of corporate venture dramatically.”

“In the near future, energy is going to be delivered and used completely differently. Marginal and average energy and CO2e prices are now on a long-term deflationary trend,” said Dikeman. “There are 500 multi-billion dollar energy companies globally, and massive portions of global GDP, that are going to get disrupted in the energy transition, from energy & power, transport, real estate, industrial to consumer to agriculture. We’ve been successful being highly selective as investors, and using our deep networks and understanding of energy and technology to avoid pitfalls other investors faced. It is exciting to be off the bench to do it again.” 

Energy Transition Ventures was founded in Houston, Texas, by Lawrence and Dikeman. The new firm participates from Seed to Series B funding rounds with select late-stage opportunities and will colocate a Silicon Valley office with GS Futures.

“Texas is the energy capital of the world, and outside of corporate venture capital, there are not many venture funds in the state” said Craig Lawrence, co-founder of Energy Transition Ventures. “So it makes sense to start an energy transition-focused fund here as the latest wave of clean technology investing accelerates.” 

Both founders had successful investing as well as operating careers in what’s now considered the ‘first wave’ of cleantech. Lawrence previously started and led the cleantech investing effort at Accel Partners including successful investments in market leaders SunRun and Opower. Lawrence has held operating roles, including VP of Products at SolarBridge Technologies and GM of Residential Solar at SunEdison after beginning his energy career starting and leading the energy practice at leading design firm IDEO.

Dikeman was well known in the sector for authoring and starting the network during the first wave. He began his career in oil & gas before moving into tech venture capital, co-founded San Francisco based cleantech investment firm Jane Capital in 2001, helped launch and manage corporate venture efforts including for Royal Dutch Shell, and co-founded and seeded half a dozen startups from smart grid to SaaS, holding CEO, VP, CFO, and Chairman roles along the way.  He co-founded smart grid startup Smart Wires, where he was also CFO of the modular power flow controls startup; and Zenergy Power, a superconducting smart grid technology startup (AIM IPO).   

The firm also announced that Jon Wellinghoff, former Chair of FERC, and Deb Merril, President of EDF Retail and co-founder and former co-CEO of Just Energy, joined ETV as advisors. GS Energy executive Q Song moves from Seoul, Korea, to join the Houston ETV investment team.

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