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Windfall Bio sees strong demand for its methane-eating microbial startup

when josh silverman He started shopping around the idea for his methane-eating microbe startup Windfall Bio eight years ago, but the market wasn’t ready. No one cares about methane, he said. Instead, the company is focused on lowering carbon emissions. But after a few years, the market began to recover.

Menlo Park-based Windfall Bio raised $28 million in Series A funding to expand its commercialization efforts. The round was led by Prelude Ventures, with participation from the Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, Incite Ventures and Positive Ventures, as well as existing investors including Mayfield.

Windfall works with industries that produce large amounts of methane, such as agriculture, oil and gas, and landfills. The startup provides methane-eating microorganisms that absorb methane emissions and convert them into fertilizer. If the company belongs to the agricultural sector, then they can use the fertilizer themselves or sell it as a source of income.

“We think there’s a huge opportunity to take advantage of this natural ecosystem, which provides us with a low-cost solution without having to do as much as we’ve seen with other carbon capture technologies,” Silverman said. Capital investment.”

Silverman said that while it took a few years to really get investors and companies on board, demand has been high since Windfall closed a seed round last year and emerged from stealth in March 2023.

“We have a huge influx from every continent, every vertical; huge excitement,” Silverman said. “This is profitable for everyone regardless of industry. Everyone wants to reduce their carbon footprint and wants to do it in a way that makes money, but there aren’t many solutions. “

Carbon capture has long been the only focus, Silverman said, because once carbon enters the atmosphere, it lasts forever, while methane only has a lifespan of 10 to 12 years. Decades ago, when people thought about climate change, they were looking for longer-term solutions. But now that the effects of climate change are more apparent and worsening, people are beginning to realize the need for both short- and long-term solutions.

“We’ve missed virtually every climate goal we’ve ever set,” Silverman said. For example, none of the Group of Twenty (G20) countries has the policies needed to meet the Paris Agreement’s emissions reduction targets. “If all you do is look ahead instead of doing things day by day, you’re going to miss those goals and miss what’s right now. We need to manage short-term climate factors or we won’t be able to deal with long-term climate factors.”

The lack of focus on methane is also surprising, given that methane can actually create a better ROI for companies than carbon reduction efforts.

Carbon is a waste product, which means when companies capture it, they largely just get rid of it rather than converting it into something else. In contrast, methane is an energy source, which means it is easier to capture and reuse than carbon. Essentially, companies can reduce their carbon emissions to save potential future costs or earn super-legal carbon credits, and focusing on methane can actually make them money if they partner with a company like Windfall.

The deal is also compelling to me because Windfall is part of a growing number of startups focused on mitigating climate problems today, not just those of the future. While it’s good for companies to focus on mitigating the long-term effects of climate change or trying to prevent future climate-induced events, we need solutions now.

This reminds me of Convetive Capital, a venture fund focused on wildfire technologies that I’ve written about before. It’s not technology dedicated specifically to helping prevent fires, but rather technology that helps society adapt to the impacts of now-increasing wildfires. Company founder Bill Clerico told TechCrunch in 2022 that while building long-term solutions is great, they mean nothing if your home is at risk from wildfires this summer.

Silverman said the market is still in the early stages of realizing the potential benefits of investing in methane reduction technologies. But the progress is good, and while Silverman may be biased, he’s happy to see money flowing to a climate company rather than another carbon credit startup. I agree with him.

“It’s been a long road to get here, and it’s been years of zero traction,” Silverman said. “Now the attraction is there, and there aren’t many people working in this field, so there aren’t many competitors. We’re the best of a handful of options. As I say, ‘In my land of the blind, the one-eyed man That’s the king.'”

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