Impact Investing in Action - digging into Aspiring Materials Limited's Capital Raise
There are plenty of great examples of impact investing in action in Aotearoa New Zealand. Previous case studies have shown how impact investing principles are being applied, as this helps investors to take action and make more impactful investments.
This case study is a little different - this time we are focusing on a company that received investment from a venture capital fund. This case study showcases the innovation happening right here in New Zealand, and what their investment process was like.
Thank you to Mark Chadderton (CEO), Kathy Izumi (COO) and the team at Aspiring Materials for sharing your story. Our aim at the Impact Investing Network is to educate and connect the Impact Investing sector in Aotearoa, so we can channel capital towards innovative companies like Aspiring Materials Limited in order to make a positive impact in Aotearoa and globally.
Aspiring Materials is an Aotearoa New Zealand-based climate tech company that has developed technology to capture industrial carbon dioxide emissions using commonly found rocks.
To dig a little deeper: their technology uses a process that extracts magnesium hydroxide from these rocks, and it’s this magnesium hydroxide that captures CO2 readily and rapidly. The Aspiring Materials process differs from other carbon capture technologies as captured CO2 is not pumped underground but locked away as a solid-state material called magnesium carbonate.
(Video reference: Aspiring Materials Limited)
The business is ready to scale and build the first pilot plant in Aotearoa New Zealand. The pilot plant will be capable of processing large volumes of feedstock that will then be used for industrial point source carbon capture, direct air capture, and supporting much needed decarbonisation initiatives.
A discussion with Mark Chadderton, CEO, and Kathy Izumi, COO:
Congratulations on your recent capital raise - can you please share the significance of this raise for Aspiring Materials?
The capital raise accelerates our plans to scale-up our process. This will enable us to become the first company in the country to successfully demonstrate commercial carbon capture. The additional funds will advance the primary milestone: detailed design (currently underway with Beca) and build of the first reactor train for separating the different critical compounds. We are targeting to start operation of the Christchurch pilot facility in the first half of 2024.
We have also been able to grow the team, bringing on the additional talent and capability needed for the next phase of development. This has ranged from engineering, scientific and business personnel - some returning to New Zealand from overseas to be part of this exceptional team.
Are there any other details regarding the investment process you are happy to share?
Motion Capital completed a comprehensive due-diligence assessment of our research and development efforts, gaining a nuanced understanding of how they can contribute value to our forthcoming steps toward full commercialization. Over the past 18 months, our focus has been dedicated to refining our processes and pinpointing the extraction of high-value products with exceptional functionality. We've rigorously quantified their advantages in contrast to existing products, which are typically derived from fossil fuels.
Aspiring’s standout feature lies in our distinctive carbon mineralization process—swift, verifiable, and offering the permanent sequestration of carbon. This sets us apart in the realm of carbon dioxide removal (CDR), a distinction that Motion Capital promptly recognized and embraced. Motion brings a pragmatic and complementary set of skills to our existing team dynamics, demonstrating a readiness to actively contribute and collaborate in a “hands-on” manner to help us succeed. We’re stoked to have Lachlan and the Motion Capital Team on board.
You are competing in the Xprize Foundation’s Carbon Removal competition, with $100M funding up for grabs in 2025. You have also been named in the top 60 teams so far! Can you please share a little bit about this competition, its significance, and how you are tracking?
XPRIZE Carbon Removal is aimed at tackling the biggest threat facing humanity - fighting climate change and rebalancing Earth’s carbon cycle. Funded by Elon Musk and the Musk Foundation, this $100M competition is the largest incentive prize in history, an extraordinary milestone. It’s a tough competition with over 1300 teams from around the world vying for the top spot.
Our inclusion in the Top 60 not only signifies our standing among global experts, but also underscores the immense potential of our innovative approach to carbon capture.
The distinction of showcasing our technology in an indie film, meticulously crafted by Gareth Moon at Ethik Studios and Mike Ogle and Anna Reid from Sabi Productions, is monumental. This not only solidifies our position as a formidable contender in the competition but, more importantly, validates the exceptional viability of our process when compared to the myriad of other teams. In the face of the frequently asked question, "Why hasn't anyone else done this?"—we attribute it to the groundbreaking, "out-of-the-box" thinking that served as the genesis for our technology and the unparalleled dedication of our team, continuously refining and propelling our research and development endeavours.
Video was released Friday 6/10 (NZ) on XPrize’s YouTube channel. You can watch it here.
You are also involved in a business development program: the Breakthrough Energy Fellowship, founded by Bill Gates. What excites you about this program?
The Breakthrough Energy Fellowship is an exceptional opportunity to work with a world class team with crucial resources, including research funding, mentorship, education, and access to the extensive Breakthrough Energy network. BE Fellows fast-tracks the early development of novel technologies so they can go from lab to market on the timeline the world needs, to reach our climate goals. We’re excited by the opportunity to grow our capability, accelerate our development, get access to this exceptional team, and further promote what Aspiring Materials is striving to achieve.
Is there anything else you would like investors to know? Specifically those looking to work with Fund Managers like Motion, who then help companies like AM?
For fund managers considering investments in cleantech and climate change technologies, a deeper comprehension of the issue's pervasive impact on human activity is essential. This isn't a challenge reserved for 2030, 2040, or 2050—it's unfolding now. Existing investment portfolios may not fully account for climate risk in future projections/earnings - which is a difficult exposure to adequately cover. Forward thinking Fund managers should be proactively seeking quality Cleantech opportunities to future proof their portfolios, whilst contributing to the global efforts to find solution to the climate crisis.
The window to invest in promising Cleantech is often limited, for once the technology is established it typically requires large capital investment to go to the next stage (unlike SAAS). This quickly moves beyond the reach of many New Zealand Venture Capital firms, forcing start-ups to look off-shore.
Interested in reading more?
You can find Aspiring Materials Limited website here.
Follow Motion Capital on Linkedin here.