Back of a London bus saying 'cleaner air for London'

Health effects of air pollution

Early-stage investment for tackling air pollution

23 June 2020

Learnings report and digital event highlights

In brief

In this report, we are exploring the investment opportunity in early-stage tech ventures tackling air pollution to improve the health of urban population in Lambeth, Southwark and beyond.

Executive summary

Air pollution outdoors and inside our homes claims about seven million lives each year. According to data from the World Health Organization, London is 10% over the safe level and more than 20,000 deaths from air pollution are reported every year. With 68% of the world’s population predicted to be urban by 2050, up 55% from today according to the UN, the importance of building more sustainable, healthier cities has never been greater to ensure healthy lives for future generations.

The scope of companies addressing air pollution is vast, yet given the nascent nature of the sector, many are early-stage i.e. they have not yet raised beyond Series A investment rounds. Through our initial research it was apparent that there was divergence between the companies who were treating the effects of the problem and those who are addressing the root causes. We continued to investigate this theme to understand the various opportunities and risks associated with each approach and to assess venture capital (VC) appetite for high-risk, high-return, and high-impact investments. In this report, we examine how different technologies are addressing air pollution at varying stages of growth with a focus on early-stage ventures.

Through research, interviews with founders and investors and our virtual workshop, we examine:

  • Existing gaps and opportunities within the start-up landscape
  • Investment trends and new market challenges and drivers
  • What investors can do to support founders beyond capital
  • How policy and regulation act as a catalyst for particular areas of innovation and a barrier for others

The COVID-19 crisis has brought to light the importance of improving London’s air quality and the need for systems which protect residents, particularly those who are most vulnerable and underserved. This report provides an argument for the opportunities that exist by investing in ventures tackling air pollution and the need for a more supportive ecosystem to fuel promising start-ups and unlock new ways of addressing the health effects of air pollution in Lambeth, Southwark and beyond.

 

In collaboration with

Bethnal Green Ventures logo