A French company is here to advance biochar production that would help mitigate climate change. NetZero announced on Feb 7th it has raised €11 million ($11,85 million) in a Series A funding round for its biochar tech. The climate venture is also named one of the world’s most promising carbon removal projects in 2022.
The funding round was joined by three investors – the global automaker and mobility provider Stellantis, through its Stellantis Ventures fund, L’Oréal, through its “L’Oréal Fund for Nature Regeneration” impact fund, and CMA CGM, a global player in sea, land, air and logistics solutions.
The startup is also supported by 23 business angels that were involved from its start. The company was created in January 2021 by five co-founders – ex-BCG Axel Reinaud, Olivier Reinaud, Pedro de Figueiredo, Aimé Njiakin, and climatologist Jean Jouzel.
“We are happy to start 2023 by welcoming Stellantis, L’Oréal, and CMA CGM as new shareholders of NetZero. This record capital raise confirms the very high interest around our model and illustrates the growing recognition of the need for large-scale carbon removal. We are now in a very good position to prepare the scale-up of our model and meet our ambitious objectives,” said Axel Reinaud, Co-founder & CEO of NetZero.
NetZero said it will use the investment to accelerate R&D to industrialize its model, continue its overall growth, mostly in Brazil, where 2 additional biochar plants will be constructed in 2023, and hire new talents to accompany its development. The venture expects a fourfold staff increase in 2023 coming to 400 people in total, most of them located in Brazil and Cameroon.
The company’s goal is to bring biochar as a carbon removal solution to scale. Its business model is based on industrial production and local use of biochar in the tropics. The startup collects unused crop residues and extracts the carbon they contain, producing a form of carbon (biochar) that can be used as a soil amendment in agriculture.
According to the company, the approach is very stable and can store carbon away from the air for hundreds of years and durably improve soil quality, therefore crop yields and farmers’ income.
Back in 2022, NetZero was selected as one of the $1 million milestone award winners in the XPRIZE Carbon Removal international competition.