Our team at Creative Ventures prides itself on being market-driven deeptech investors.
This approach stands in direct contrast to the market-pull/technology push innovation continuum—a paradigm that requires asking customers both what problem they need solved and what the solution is.
A common criticism of this approach is that it’s shortsighted. We agree – after all, what if the customer can’t define the solution, and what if the solution does not even exist with today’s technology?
Moving deliberately without breaking too many things
We focus on B2B deeptech investments – supporting companies that are commercializing novel scientific and engineering innovations. They’re expanding the frontier of what our species knows to be possible. What was just a few years ago in the realm of academic research—AI, synthetic biology, advanced materials, etc.—are now technologies that are market-ready and able to be deployed at scale.
But you can’t just move fast and break things in deeptech, and being intentional about what markets deeptech companies are going into is crucially important. Innovation in new hardware, synthetic biology, and AI doesn’t have the same ability to pivot as traditional software. In fact, in the realm of deeptech startups, pivots are extremely costly at best and deadly at worst.
We’re looking for market-driven companies and not technologies in search of a problem. For us this means we aim to partner with founders who have a strong first-market hypothesis or to help them find one. The right market matters because the combination of the right technology with the right customer is an integral part of the formula for a successful deeptech startup.
What markets are we focused on?
Generally speaking, we exist to address the largest problems that society as a whole is facing. These are tremendous opportunities from both sheer market size and impact perspective, while also being ideal areas where deeptech can enable new possibilities and solutions.
We focus on several main macroeconomic trends (in no particular order): climate change, healthcare, and labor shortages – particularly in the industrial and service sectors.
We think about climate change in terms of both adaptation and mitigation. Several sub-topics of interest include:
• Decarbonization of the industrial sectors and built environment
• energy storage and mobility
• Enabling data-driven decisions and analysis of climate risk
• other effects of climate change
• maintaining productivity in the agricultural sector and the need for alternative protein sources
Examples include investments in companies like Terra CO2, Sepion, and PlanetWatchers, and we continue to be on the look for advances in areas such as lower carbon building materials, reducing methane and nitrogen emissions, and enabling further electrification of the transportation and stationary sectors
Our healthcare theme is focused primarily on chronic diseases that drive increasing healthcare system costs, such as:
• Digitization of devices, particularly Software as Medical Device approaches enabled by artificial intelligence and machine learning
• Emerging therapeutic platforms, e.g. drug delivery and neuromodulation
A few examples include our investments in Exo, OncoPrecision, and Imvaria. We continue to look for advances in topics like point care imaging, cancer screening, remote patient monitoring, and mitochondrial and metabolic health.
With labor shortages impacting society at many levels, we look for companies that aim to:
• Improve productivity in the construction and manufacturing sectors
• Address labor shortages in areas like food services, agriculture, logistics, etc.
Finally, we’ve also made a number of investments in Frontier tech companies where the underlying technology has the potential to offer a step-change solution across multiple industries while being mindful to avoid falling into the platform technology dilemma. Examples include Quantum Computing (Bleximo), and scaling bio-process innovation.
If you’re working with a company in these sectors, we want to hear from you. We invest in pre-seed and seed-stage companies taking a market-driven, deep tech approach to tackling the largest global, secular problems. We’ve often been the first institutional investor on a company’s cap table – and have been a lead or co-lead investor in 80% of the investments out of our current fund. Whether you’re already up and running, raising your first round of funding, or you’re still in the lab and haven’t even formed a company yet, we’d love to hear from you.