Can Venture Capital Make America Do Tough Things Again?

Venture capital is an effective source of money for scaling companies quickly. But what if your company needs 15 years to prove itself?

That’s the time horizon for many “tough tech” companies in energy that are developing new semiconductors, industrial processes, chemical production methods and long-duration storage innovations.

The first cleantech bubble showed the limits of VC in backing tough, capital-intensive tech. So we are asking: Can venture capital ever step up to the big industrial-scale challenges of our day? Wind, solar and lithium-ion batteries are growing — but what about the difficult decarbonization solutions for heavy industry?

Our guest, Katie Rae, believes it can. Katie is the CEO and managing partner at The Engine, a venture firm based in Cambridge, Mass. that invests in a wide-ranging sector she calls tough tech. Katie joins us to explain why she’s hopeful that startups doing difficult things are finding more opportunities to connect with investors. You can also learn more about The Engine’s upcoming Tough Tech summit next week.

Additional resources:

  • Fortune: Why This Venture Capitalist Is Tackling 'Tough Tech'
  • Listen to our previous Interchange episode on why cleantech VC is back
  • Vox: This Climate Problem Is Bigger Than Cars and Much Harder to Solve
Support for the Interchange podcast comes from Schneider Electric, the leader of the digital transformation in energy management and automation. Schneider Electric is pioneering solutions like microgrids, for everything from community resiliency to higher adoption of electric vehicles.

The more renewable energy we use, the less fossil fuels are needed.

Support for this podcast comes from PG&E. Did you know that 20 percent of EV drivers in the U.S. are in PG&E’s service area in Northern California? PG&E is helping to electrify corporate fleet vehicles. Get in touch with PG&E’s EV specialists to find out how you can take your transportation fleet electric.