Byron Bay VC fund raises $67 million to back “audacious” climate tech startups

ReGen

ReGen Ventures founder and managing partner Dan Fitzgerald. Source: supplied/Hannah Pye.

New Byron Bay VC fund ReGen Ventures has closed its first US$50 million ($66.5 million) fund, pegged for early-stage investment into some of the world’s most audacious startups that are “restoring the planet and restoring human health”.

Founded by former investment banker and hedge fund manager Dan Fitzgerald, ReGen has ambitions of investing $1 billion into regenerative technologies by 2050.

While it’s based in Byron Bay, the fund was set up to be global from day one. It already has offices and team members in San Francisco and New York.

Former Patagonia chief executive Rose Marcario has also joined the firm as a partner.

ReGen’s first two investments are Hide Biotech, a London-based business creating a leather substitute from food waste, and Seqana, a German startup using AI and satellite imagery to cost effectively measure soil organic carbon.

But Fitzgerald also sees significant opportunities locally.

“The science and the technical talent is here,” he tells SmartCompany.

We’re also seeing more and more global businesses emerging from the Australian ecosystem.

There is more technology being commercialised through universities and more funding available in general, particularly to impact startups. There’s also an ever-growing talent pool of people leaving corporate roles to focus on their own impact businesses, Fitzgerald adds.

ReGen already plays a big role in that community, he says. That’s only set to increase.

What kinds of businesses is ReGen looking for?

The funding is for relatively early-stage startups. ReGen is looking to make pre-seed to Series A investments, with the goal of backing each business throughout its whole journey.

Fitzgerald is looking for “the climate Canvas”, he says. That is, generation-defining success stories that have the potential for global scale and global impact.

Startups have to be building a business that is, at its core, working on restoring planetary health and human health. They also have to be looking beyond sustainability, he notes.

“While the goal for the federal government might be net zero, for us that’s a starting point.”

Successful founders will also likely have a unique insight into their sector through lived experience, Fitzgerald explains.

But he’s also looking for something a little harder to define — something he calls: “visionary pragmatism”.

It’s having “this audacious vision, but the pragmatic roadmap to actually execute and deliver that vision”, he explains.

“We want to back to breakthrough game changers.”

More cash for the climate

ReGen’s new fund sees yet more Aussie capital going towards climate-conscious businesses. Over the past year, we’ve seen an increasing focus not only on the environment but on impact businesses in general, from investors and consumers alike.

The COP26 meeting in Glasgow this week has also shone a media spotlight on climate issues.

There’s government regulation coming in, plus corporate pressure and consumer demand for greener and healthier products, Fitzgerald notes.

“It’s all culminating in this amazing economic opportunity that just so happens to be improving the things that we all care about.”

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