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Barren land to greenfields: Cultivo bags $14M to supercharge natural capital platform

Picture credits: Cultivo

More than half of the world’s total gross domestic product, which is nearly $44 trillion, involves activities that are moderately or highly dependent on nature. Natural capital is an emerging asset class that values the natural world, an economic approach that makes it clear why a tree is worth more alive than dead. 

This is where California-based Cultivo exists to accelerate finance to regenerate nature. It builds portfolios of high-quality natural capital that generate healthy financial returns, good for nature and society. 

Unlocks investments into nature

Now, the public benefit corporation Cultivo has raised $14 million in Series A funding. The round was co-led by Boston-based MassMutual Ventures, which recently backed UK-based Genomics and London-based Octopus Energy Generation. It also saw participation from Salkantay Ventures and Peña Verde. With this, Cultivo’s total funding accounts for over $20 million. 

This new funding will enable Cultivo to further supercharge its AI-driven science and technology platform which links greenfield projects with potential financial institutions and corporates who want to invest. Its platform will mobilise pools of capital into land regeneration projects that remove carbon, increase biodiversity and improve water storage. 

In addition to the investment, Cultivo has also signed an agreement with Octopus Energy Generation for them to deploy up to $40 million into natural capital projects across North America, Europe, and Australasia.

Cultivo’s pipeline of projects

Founded by James Clifton and Manuel Pinuela in 2019, Cultivo is an environment-based investment platform to unlock investment to restore nature and generate ecosystem services. Its pipeline of natural capital projects surpasses 100 million hectares, equivalent to more than double the land size of California. As per the company, this pipeline has the potential to remove over 3 Gigatons of carbon dioxide, which is roughly equivalent to the EU’s annual carbon emissions as of 2022. 

Cultivo lets investors use satellite technology and proprietary algorithms to discover the best nature-based portfolios to invest in. Cultivo also works in close partnership with leading NGOs and land partners to design, implement, and monitor projects. It creates the best investment structure for each portfolio that matches the natural capital stack. 

The investments will fund sustainable activities that restore and protect nature and the cash flows from carbon offsets and other ecosystem services provide financial returns to the investors. Notably, investors will get three forms of returns – financial, natural, and social. 

Commenting on the new funding, Dr. Manuel Piñuela, CEO and Co-Founder of Cultivo, said: “Investors are recognising the value and scale of the natural capital investment opportunity, and companies are wanting to secure a future supply of high-quality carbon removal credits to mitigate volatility and quality concerns seen in the voluntary carbon market. This funding allows us to continue to deliver our growing pipeline of high-quality natural capital projects for our institutional customers, and accelerate the development of our AI-driven science & technology platform. We’re deeply honored to have MassMutual Ventures and Octopus Energy Generation join us on our mission to regenerate nature at scale”.

Timothy Krysiek, Managing Partner of the Climate Technology Fund at MassMutual Ventures said, “Cultivo’s focus on leveraging technology to rapidly scale investment in the next generation of high-quality, nature-based carbon removal projects that enrich biodiversity matched our forward view of natural capital markets. Our investment in Cultivo reflects our broader strategy of partnering with exceptional teams who are addressing important, historically underfunded climate challenges.“

Alex Brierley, co-head of Octopus Energy Generation’s fund management team, added: “Cultivo are leading the way in carbon removal projects which are helping the natural environment flourish while providing meaningful benefits to local communities that host them. Their tech-led approach, track-record, and experienced team mean we’re confident Cultivo has a winning formula for long-term success in this essential and fast-growing market. We’re looking forward to working with them as they grow and develop more projects globally, making a truly positive impact.”

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