Courtesy of Climate Haven

ClimateHaven, the city’s first climate tech incubator, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Thursday to spotlight its startups and services. 

The incubator, founded in the spring of 2023, is a beneficiary of the $100 million ClimateTech fund from Connecticut Innovations, the state’s quasi-public venture capital arm. It now has 17 members who are looking to tackle many of the sustainability issues the world faces today. 

Kiko Wong ’22, ClimateHaven’s startup portfolio manager, addressed the incubator’s mission and what they are looking for in startups. 

“We want to incubate and support the most promising startups that can decarbonize our economy – this is the most important criteria,” Wang said. “What that looks like is potential for scalability, potential for investment stability and potential for climate impact. These are the three primary metrics by which we evaluate the startups that are applying.” 

With an emphasis on diversity, ClimateHaven’s current roster of startups represents a variety of backgrounds and industries. They include Catala, which focuses on developing filtration technologies for industrial water treatment, and Matcha Electric, which supplies electric vehicle charging stations to multi-tenant properties. cq

Wong said that ClimateHaven hopes to establish New Haven as a central location for the development of climate tech. 

“When you think of climate tech, the first places that come to mind are Boston, San Francisco, New York City,” Wong said. “Only more recently there’s been a recognition that we’re ready to level up, and we have the right pieces here in order to support climate tech startups.” 

Wong sees New Haven as a quickly growing and developing city that can soon compete with other domestic innovation and tech hubs. He cited Connecticut’s high density of universities engaged in research and tech innovation as well as New Haven’s proximity to major startup hubs, without the high cost of living, as reasons for his optimism. 

ClimateHaven is still in its early stages, but Wong shared that they have big plans for the future. Just as New Haven has seen a biotech ecosystem blossom, Wong said ClimateHaven hopes to catalyze the same level of growth and innovation in the climate tech sector. 

Mayor Justin Elicker shared similar sentiments in a speech at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, hoping to see New Haven become “one of the top ten climate hubs in the nation” within the coming years. 

In addition to fiscal and infrastructural growth with product development and scaling, ClimateHaven leaders said they also hope it will foster a community for young entrepreneurs. 

“We have been able to move more quickly on the buildout than we anticipated,” said Ryan Dings, ClimateHaven’s CEO.  “A great group of startups from Yale joined us, and we have really exceeded expectations in terms of building out the community of sponsors, support and partners… We want to be a convener across investors, policymakers, startups and young entrepreneurs.”

ClimateHaven is still in its early stages, but Dings said its progress has exceeded his expectations and that he expects a strong year ahead. 

Abhi Godavarthi ’22, the founder of a startup that focuses on sustainable bioproduction highlighted the significance of having an incubator in the city. 

“The biggest asset is the people. [Climate tech] seems to be a hot area in technology, but there are actually only a few people working on it,” Godavarthi said. “Most of the time you are usually taken to a remote part of the world, so having a group of people is game-changing.” 

The incubator has been able to spotlight startups with different missions and approaches to sustainability, which Godavarthi says has allowed him to appreciate other, lesser-known forms of climate tech.

Climate tech, which faces many legislative challenges, is at a crucial juncture, but ultimately, results speak for themselves, according to Dings.

“The best thing climate tech companies can do is create products that have economic value,” he said. “That allows capitalism to do what it does best, which is pick winners on economic merit. Solar is the most prevalent, and solar has economic value because it is such a low-cost way. Creating economic value ensures that you don’t need policy incentives.” 

Within the next year, the incubator hopes to continue building its pipelines and programming to uplift these nascent startups in conjunction with New Haven’s burgeoning tech industry. 

ClimateHaven is located at 770 Chapel St. 

Nati Tesfaye is a sophomore in Branford College from East Haven, Connecticut. He covers business, workers and unions in the city of New Haven. Last year, he covered housing and homelessness for the News.