Backing NatureMetrics to use genomics to advance biodiversity
2150 leads NatureMetrics $15m Series A to accelerate growth of DNA-based biodiversity mapping to advance our global mapping and action
By: Margarita Skarkou and Christian Jølck
At 2150, we believe that understanding how humans are affecting nature is a key driver to solving the climate crisis.
Our planet has experienced five previous mass extinction events, the last one happened 65 million years ago. The sixth one is happening right now!
Earth’s plant, animal and bacterial life, its biodiversity, is complex and interlinked — every ecosystem is made up of thousands of interacting species, each geographical location being unique. A single species interacts with many others in specific ways that produce benefits to people and planet: clean air, clean water, and healthy soils for efficient food production. When one species goes extinct in an ecosystem or its population numbers dwindle so significantly that it cannot sustain its important function, other species are affected, impacting the way the ecosystem functions and the benefits it provides. Serious declines in species’ populations are indicators that the ecosystem is breaking down, a warning of a larger systems failure. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, it has been proven that climate change and biodiversity are interlinked.
Currently, the species extinction rate is estimated at between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than natural extinction rates. The 2022 WEF Global Risk report and statements from the Forum at Davos this week highlight that biodiversity-loss poses an existential threat to humanity and also potentially material economic losses, as biodiversity ecosystems provide goods and services with a value of $30 trillion per year.
So how do we fix it?
Biodiversity has a measurement problem. The tools to measure our impact on biodiversity are inadequate and have not been scaled globally, making monitoring and forecasting the state of biodiversity extremely difficult. Our own Margarita Skarkou has been attending a number of natural capital related roundtables and the Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC) Economics of Biodiversity delegation searching for a solution to the biodiversity tracking challenge. We think we have found it in NatureMetrics.
NatureMetrics is tackling this problem by applying genomics to nature, leveraging lowering cost genomic sequencing and easy to use field sampling, namely environmental DNA (eDNA). eDNA refers to the traces of DNA that animals and microorganisms leave behind in the environment e.g. in water or in the air. The NatureMetrics solution is brilliant, allowing for a few samples of water or soil from the environment to provide both the presence or absence and relative abundance of the species being analyzed.
NatureMetrics is the world’s leading eDNA company with presence in Europe and North America. The company has researched nature in more than 80 countries globally with over 450 clients across cities and sectors, including renewable energy, infrastructure, marine water and financial services.
With its world-leading academic expertise in environmental DNA and analytics, NatureMetrics has been able to effectively build the most comprehensive database of eDNA in existence. The core offering today consists of its patent-protected sampling kits, state-of-the-art lab capabilities, bioinformatics data processing and detailed reporting.
The Urban Perspective: Creating the BioDiverCity
The urban environment has the potential to embrace biodiversity and has been working to do so for the last decade, but cities need to re-imagine their approach and invest to create climate resilience.
BIG, the leading architect group spearheaded by our Advisory Board member, Bjarke Ingels, created a concept of the biodiverse city, a multi-pronged ecosystem of movement between air, land and water. If major cities were to actively invest in biodiversity on a global scale it would have the potential to create more than 115 millions of jobs by 2030 within infrastructure and the built environment.
Strong syndicate of investors to get biodiversity on the agenda across industries
2150 is leading NatureMetric’s funding round to help them scale globally, digitize the product offering and opening doors to clients in the urban environment and financial services. We partnered with Ananda Impact Ventures, SWEN Blue Ocean Capital Partners, BNP Paribas Solar Impulse Venture Fund and existing investors, Systemiq Capital, to build a world-class syndicate. We are proud to support Katie, the NatureMetrics CEO, and Kat, its founder, in their mission.
All of us at 2150 are excited to help NatureMetrics create the global map for nature through genetic biodiversity monitoring. Baselining and acting on biodiversity through NatureMetric’s technology will empower us to have a fighting chance at avoiding the sixth extinction (or at least reducing its damage) restoring ecosystems and enabling more accurate biodiversity and nature-related disclosures.
2150 is a venture capital firm investing in technology companies that seek to sustainably reimagine and reshape the urban environment. 2150’s investment thesis focuses on major unsolved problems across what it calls the ‘Urban Stack’, which comprises every element of the built environment, from the way our cities are designed, constructed and powered, to the way people live, work and are cared for. Find out more at www.2150.vc