Victoria's Natureblocks accelerates decarbonization

Plus, an Island-based climatetech venture raises a $3 million seed round.


Welcome to this week’s Midweek Memo, brought to you by Brilliant. In this issue, a familiar face in the Victoria tech ecosystem details his latest startup, a stealthy climatetech venture announces a $3 million seed round, and an important question we have for you in today’s poll.

Now onto today’s briefing. It’s 1,100 words: a three-minute read.

-Allison, @allisongacad

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How James Davison went from fintech to climatetech with Natureblocks

James Davidson, founder and CEO of Natureblocks. Photo: LinkedIn

One smoky day from nearby forest fires was enough to make Victoria tech entrepreneur James Davidson think twice. The co-founder of Y Combinator-backed fintech startup MazumaGo (previously known as Truss Payments), as well as former software engineer at local cleantech ventures Pani and MarineLabs, had a visceral reckoning with our changing climate — and he decided to put his finance and tech skills up to the challenge.

“I knew at that point that if I wasn't going to work on climate change, I was always going to feel like I was missing something — like I wasn't working on the thing that I wanted to work on,” said Davidson.

Today, he is the founder and CEO of Natureblocks — a climatetech platform that automates the process for users to account for their carbon emissions and offset with carbon removal projects, as well as support carbon project developers.

“The reality is that […] there's no way to get to a two-degrees-maximum Celsius increase with carbon reductions alone. We have to remove carbon from the atmosphere,” said Davidson. “We need financial mechanisms for people to pay for carbon to be removed.”

These mechanisms already exist within the global ecosystem of the voluntary and compliance carbon markets — once carbon dioxide is sequestered into the ground as a product of carbon project developers, they can generate offsets, which sell as carbon credits. However, carbon project developers often face exorbitant fees and bureaucratic challenges that delay this process — the crux of the problem Natureblocks is trying to solve.

“It is not accessible for someone who has developed a way to pull carbon out of the atmosphere to quickly and efficiently go to market, so that they can then reinvest that money back into their solution and scale even faster,” said Davidson. “One of the biggest bottlenecks that the financial side of climate change has is the fact that people who are doing innovative work are being throttled by their ability to sell the carbon that they're pulling out of the air.”

Natureblocks aims to accelerate the process for carbon projects to enter the marketplace, largely through automating the verification process required for offsets to be sold. The startup ensures that appropriate projects meet established guidelines for quantifying and reporting carbon offsets, authored by the International Standards Organization.

While Natureblocks supports projects around the world, the company is also keen to bolster local innovators. For example, Victoria climatetech entrepreneur Callum Campbell of Greenline Ferries is working with Natureblocks to develop offsets for sale. Campbell’s company is building electric foot passenger ferries to travel between Gibsons, Bowen Island, and downtown Vancouver.

“A fair amount of people are taking vehicles onto the [current] ferries from the Sunshine Coast down to West Vancouver, and then driving into town and going back,” said Davidson. “And the idea is that if you can quantify the amount of people that are displaced from that project, you can effectively determine how much carbon would be removed in a given year by switching to an electric ferry.”

The sale of these offsets through Natureblocks could support the finances needed to launch Greenline Ferries, he adds. For Davidson, it’s this ability to support innovative carbon projects that motivates his work and scale-up of Natureblocks to take on the climate crisis.

“When they're done properly, carbon offsets are an invaluable tool to tons of carbon entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, and policymakers to help solve climate change,” he added. “And it's one of the best policies that we have.”


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📰 More Victoria innovation news

🌎 Victoria’s climatetech scene is hot: Othersphere, a local climatetech startup, raised $3 million in seed funding. The round was led by Vancouver-based Active Impact Investments, which has also invested in Victoria real estate decarbonization venture Audette.

💰 Apply for government funding: PacifiCan has launched a new intake for its Business Scale-up and Productivity program, which offers no-interest, repayable funding between $200k and $5 million to startups. Applications are open until September 22.

🇮🇳 Making international news: GoChip made headlines in India, where the company’s microchip technology is being employed to track the movement and population of the city of Panaji’s stray dogs.

✏️ Looking for your input: Founders of Earlybird, an early childhood edtech startup, are looking to hear from parents with kids under the age of six in a survey on child development at home versus in care.

👩🏻‍💼Victoria tech moves

Major personnel changes, including promotions, hires, and departures:

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🕴️Tech jobs of the week

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