Currently, energy production is a big concern for us and the answer to it might decide our fate as a species. We realised how fossil fuels are eroding our environment and causing accelerated global warming. Since this sombre realisation, there has been an almost unanimous push by countries worldwide to move towards greener energy alternatives. To help startups dealing with energy production, Amsterdam-based accelerator, Rockstart has now raised €21M in fresh funding.
Energy startups in The Netherlands and Europe to get a boost
Rockstart is using the latest €21M funding to create an Energy Fund. This fund will be utilised to invest in energy startups based out of the Netherlands and Europe. Similar to the company’s previous ventures, this new fund will be used to help early-stage startups until they scale-up.
The new Energy Fund launched with the Dutch pension fund ABP, and family office De Hoge Dennen Capital as cornerstone investors, along with some prominent private-wealth and industry investors. It is also supported by the seed capital scheme from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).
In a conversation with Silicon Canals, Rune Theill, Rockstart’s CEO, reveals why the company chose to build a fund targeting energy startups. He says, “At Rockstart, we are committed to playing a role in solving some of the global challenges we are facing now and in the years ahead. The Energy domain represents a crucial area in which Rockstart sees a need to empower startup founders to drive a positive impact on a global scale by solving issues related to the current energy production and consumption.”
COVID didn’t hamper Energy Fund establishment
Most of the world is trying to cope with the drastic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some companies and startups noticed an increased demand for their services during the pandemic, many startups struggled to stay afloat. However, the pandemic didn’t deter VCs from investing in companies and Rockstart’s new fund wasn’t really impacted either.
Commenting on whether or not the pandemic affected Rockstart’s ambitions, Theill says, “The reality is that we are only raising capital from professional investors, which means that most of them have an allocation strategy which is not directly impacted by something like the current health pandemic.”
Energy: The next frontier
There is a keen focus on renewable energy, with increased global investment in the sector. Theill notes, “Energy is needed for almost everything we do on this planet. As our global energy consumption continues to rise, it is crucial that we transition towards producing cleaner energy, ensure we are aware of how we consume energy, and that we develop more intelligent systems to optimise the entire ecosystem.”
As a firm working with energy companies for over six years through the Rockstart Smart Energy Accelerator program and corporate programs such as Shell New Energy Challenge and the Green Challenge, the firm has some deeper insights to offer. Freerk Bisschop, Managing Partner, Rockstart Energy, says, “When it comes to trends, we notice multiple startups focussing on business solutions for planning and management of energy grids. There’s also an increase in “2nd-time” founders (i.e serial entrepreneurs) in the energy sector.”
Building upon successful ventures
This is not the first time the Amsterdam-based accelerator launched a new fund for a particular industry. Last year, the company raised €18 million for its AgriFood fund. Similarly, the company has a notable portfolio of companies that it has invested in, via its Emerging Tech and Health funds.
Sharing his views on the progress and success of startups that Rockstart invested in, Theill says, “We are pleased with the development of our portfolio. Investing in early-stage startups, we start to see some of the larger valuations and exits from the 2012-2013 portfolio. In fact, one company is about exit right now and we are looking forward to announcing that within a month’s time. With this new strategy and the development of our second fund, we can create a clear capital pathway for the startup founders and continue to empower them for the longer term.”
Main image credits: Rockstart