Carbon is an essential component of life on Earth. However, as the saying goes, “the dose makes the poison.” Carbon stored in plants and soil is released into the atmosphere as forests, grasslands, and other ecosystems are damaged or converted for human use, contributing to climate change.
Living Carbon, a climate biotech startup developing plants that can capture and store more carbon, has raised $21M in a Series A funding round led by Temasek, with participation from Lowercarbon Capital, Toyota Ventures, Felicis Ventures, and other strategic angels. This brings the total amount of investment secured to date to $36M
Additionally, Living Carbon will use this funding to increase its staff and broaden its efforts to develop bio-engineered climate solutions. In addition to improving photosynthesis, the company is working on a trait that will allow trees to store more metals naturally in their roots, lengthen the time that carbon is stored there, produce more durable wood products, and clean up toxic soils. With funding from Frontier Climate, the company is also engaged in cutting-edge research and development that aims to create long-lasting biopolymers that can store carbon for millennia.
Founded in 2019 by Maddie Hall, Patrick Mellor, Living Carbon is a non-profit organisation with the mission of responsibly balancing the planet’s carbon cycle through the inherent power of plants. Beginning with photosynthesis-enhanced trees, the company is demonstrating the promise of advanced biotechnology in restoring ecosystems, increasing biodiversity, and improving photosynthetic organisms’ ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Supertrees of the future!
Living Carbon is on track to provide 4-5M seedlings across the US in 2023–2024 by speeding up commercial production of its hybrid poplar with enhanced photosynthetic capacity. Along with carbon quantification and monitoring services provided by Living Carbon, the seedlings will be sold to companies as a means of lowering their carbon footprint. The company is also working on carbon projects using mixed stand plantings of photosynthesis-enhanced hybrid poplar and loblolly pine that can help restore damaged ecosystems.
In Pennsylvania and Georgia, the company is collaborating with landowners to develop carbon projects. Living Carbon aims to double its acreage every year with the US as its primary market, removing additional carbon from the US’s millions of acres of reforestation potential.
Maddie Hall, CEO and Co-Founder said, “We’re excited to close our Series A and continue to make progress on large scale carbon removal using plant biotechnology. This new funding will allow us to produce 4-5M photosynthesis-enhanced seedlings and plant them at large scale. Humans have warmed the world so quickly and degraded over 75% of the land on our planet. We want to focus on restoring land where trees are not otherwise thriving.”
Chris Sacca, Founder of Lowercarbon Capital, said, “Living Carbon engineers supertrees that grow up to 50% faster and eat up to 27% more CO2 than your run of the mill logs. That means more timber, forests, and other carbon-storing products sooner and cheaper.”
Vince Stanley of Stanley Farms, one of Living Carbon’s land partners, said, “Our partnership with Living Carbon will increase the productivity of our land, while also increasing the amount of carbon captured by our trees. It’s an honor to use our family land to restore nature and advance much-needed nature-based solutions to climate change. Through partnerships with landowners like us, Living Carbon has the opportunity to draw down carbon and create revenue for landowners by making it profitable to plant on underperforming land with faster-growing trees.”
Lisa Coca, Climate Fund Partner at Toyota Ventures, said: “The voluntary carbon credit market is on track to exceed $50 billion by 2030, but the momentum will only be sustained by the near-term introduction of credits that are transparent, cost-effective, and produced in high volumes. Living Carbon’s synthetic biology platform has the potential to fill the gap between supply and demand by leveraging the powerful combination of proven nature-based solutions as a carbon sink and genetic engineering to deliver high-quality credits to the market. And, most importantly, to do so on a timeline that will supply credits in scale within the next three to five years. We look forward to supporting the team as they continue to engineer a path to net zero with nature-based approaches to carbon drawdown.”