Atomic energy is a tool that is capable of helping address some of humanity’s most wicked challenges. Clean, abundant, reliable and affordable power makes everything we do a little easier and is becoming increasing urgent in the era of climate change.
Unfortunately, atomic energy is a long way from reaching its potential or even achieving the impact envisioned by its pioneers.
We’ve had numerous discussions here about reasons for the slow progress. (See, for example, here, here and here.) I have long believed that the next generation of nuclear reactor designs can address many of the existing concerns about nuclear energy. Therefore, some of the longstanding obstacles to greater deployment can be overcome through the successful commercialization of next-gen designs. In particular, I have blogged about the need to increase investment in the development of this next generation of nuclear technologies.
In early 2018, I was contacted by a reader to discuss ways to increase funding to advanced nuclear in response to a request I posted for anyone thinking about this to be in touch. In the course of several long conversations, I learned that this reader, Valerie Gardner, a former hightech entrepreneur who had co-founded an investment firm back in 2002, was interested in developing a fund to invest in advanced nuclear and asked for my help. In keeping with my career-long strategy of finding ways to help others work more successfully – often motivated by my own desire to stay abreast of the latest trends – I agreed to assist.
Fast forward through almost three years and numerous stages of development, I am pleased to announce that I am joining forces with Valerie Gardner to become a managing partner at Nucleation Capital. Nucleation Capital will be investing in innovative companies enabling what we call the “carbon-managed economy” of the 21st century, with primary focus on advanced nuclear energy, advanced smart grids and deep decarbonization ventures.
By blending my expertise with hers and that of a few other extremely capable people, we expect to identify, fund and help great teams overcome barriers that limit their ability to bring clean energy products and services to market, foremost of which is access to capital.
Throughout our development process, we were advised by attorneys not to talk publicly about the fact that we were developing a fund due to certain SEC restrictions. Over the last two quarters, however, we have made some changes which shift our operating paradigm and we now can discuss the fund publicly, which is a welcome change, especially for me. I look forward to sharing more about this fund and why and how that change happened: hint, it has to do with new technology. For the moment, I am leaving that for another post and/or podcast.
My purpose today is to alert you that there are some changes in the works both for me and Atomic Insights. I have invited Valerie to also join me in publishing related blog posts here. She has a wealth of experience in technology development, startups, financial management, investment and environmentalism. Some of you might already know her; she has been actively participating in climate, energy and investment-related groups and discussions for years. We are also moving forward with a long-delayed upgrade to the Atomic Insights website, with the goals of improving your ability to find and stay on top the material that is of interest to you.
You can be assured that we will keep writing about nuclear energy but we will also be looking at the kinds of newly commercializing “climate services” that nuclear will be ideally suited to power, including desalination, hydrogen production, and various types of carbon capture, utilization and sequestion (CCUS) activity. Of course, I will also be writing more about Nucleation Capital, the process of venture investing, the ways that venture capital differs from other components of the capital stack that support the deployment of clean energy, and our experience working to fulfill our vision to help “nucleate the carbon-managed economy.”
For those impatient to learn more about Nucleation Capital, please visit the website. One of the key ways that our fund differs from most other venture funds, is that we will be able to accept investments from accredited individuals at a fairly low level of capital commitment (i.e. in the tens of thousands, rather than in hundreds of thousands or millions). If you want to learn more about the fund as a potential investor, please use the link at the bottom of the Fund page on the Nucleation website.
I will be busier now but I promise to keep sharing my new experiences and what I learn through this process to continue to build on the base of accumulated knowledge which has been shared widely by readers. As usual, I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions.