Why we had to back Normative — the world’s first carbon accounting engine
2150 co-leads Series A of Normative to accelerate climate action across the Urban Stack and the economy at large
In management, the old saying goes that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
This remains true for your organisation, your local government, and it holds true for all the companies in the world that together generate over two thirds of global carbon emissions.
The problem, however, is that the vast majority of these companies are unable to effectively and accurately measure their carbon footprint. Hence over 33Gt of annual CO2 equivalents are not being measured and managed effectively!
Meanwhile, this is rapidly becoming one of the most important KPIs for all stakeholders from customers and regulators to employees, shareholders and board rooms — and with good reason. The IPCC’s latest report recently called for accelerated systemic climate action in the corporate and financial sector to bend the curve of climate change and limit the damage to our planet and human wellbeing.
Companies have so far been left with a cottage industry of consultants who offer carbon accounting “by hand”. While each consultant will slowly come up with different emissions results preventing apples to apples comparison, sometimes even inside the same organisation, they have one thing in common: they are very costly. The largest corporations of the world may be able to afford this, but for especially for SMEs with tighter resources, carbon accounting and reporting has been not just an inconsistent but a completely unscalable challenge. And like other big data problems, machines and algorithms are better suited than humans to solve this problem and provide carbon emissions accounting at industrial scale.
That is why we are very excited to back Normative together with our likeminded co-investors at ETF Partners, Lowercarbon Capital and existing investors byFounders, and Luminar Ventures.
Based in Stockholm, Normative is a cloud software company that standardises and automates the people-intensive carbon accounting process and makes it affordable for any organisation. Normative’s software generates emissions calculations based on the customer’s internal data and its unique proprietary data model and provides compliance grade carbon accounts and insights and guidance to companies on how to get to net zero emissions most effectively.
As millions of companies realise that measuring, reporting and managing their carbon footprint is a becoming a necessity to remain competitive and compliant, we see carbon accounting emerge as the first truly global software vertical in the climate tech domain. Therefore we have been doing an extensive deep dive into carbon tech to find solutions to problems such as carbon accounting and ESG management, geospatial intelligence and analytics, carbon investments, and climate risk management. In carbon accounting alone we are following over 100 startups who have entered into this space trying to identify a potential category leaders in Europe that was meeting three important criteria:
- A truly purpose driven team and ultra high integrity team that could be defining this new sector and wouldn’t be going for the easy short term but unsustainable business model of brokering low quality carbon offsets.
- A transparent and compliance focused data approach emphasising Scope 3 emissions (most competitors offer a black box of “AI”) based on global carbon accounting standards with the the Greenhouse Gas Protocol at the centre.
- A platform strategy and mindset focused on building a scalable open technology infrastructure that can orchestrate and mobilise a wider ecosystem and bake carbon accounting technology into the financial tech stack of any size of company and type industry.
When we met Kristian Rönn, the co-founder and CEO of Normative, we immediately had the sense that we might have found our match. Kristian is a pioneer who left his job analysing global risks such as global pandemics and climate change at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University to start Normative. This was long before venture investors started talking about climate tech.
And while the rest of the world was slowly waking up to the scary reality of climate change, Kristian and his team were steadily building out their vast data model of fragmented emissions factors and over 100 million companies and developing the data pipelines and semantic AI to make Normative capable of ingesting the ERP, accounting, and product data of any company and automate a transparent standardised emissions calculations and accounts for disclosure of Scope 1, Scope 2, and most importantly the difficult to measure Scope 3 emissions of the supply chain.
But Kristian and Normative have also been contributing to and shaping the ecosystem of organisations, governments, and companies that are leading the drive towards a net zero economy. Normative is thus the emissions accounting provider for the UK Government’s SME Climate Hub and more similar initiatives as part of the United Nations Race to Zero campaign, which aims to drive change to a decarbonised economy ahead of COP26. Normative is also rolling out a free and open source starter product for SMEs in collaboration with Google.org to provide businesses of all sizes with access to accurate carbon accounting tools.
While we are witnessing a “climate moment” in financial markets and corporate governance, this paradigm shift still needs the technology and data infrastructure to enable systemic transparency that will drive radical change of behaviour and technology adoption. This enabling technology is needed across the Urban Stack that 2150 is mainly focusing on, but it is equally necessary throughout the entire economy. Normative is building this infrastructure in world class quality and making it accessible to the world. Therefore we had to back this team.
2150 is a venture capital firm investing in technology companies that seek to sustainably reimagine and reshape the urban environment and enable a sustainable and scalable future of mass urbanisation. 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, move, and are cared for. 2150.vc