What is Regenerative Technology?
Unprecedented macro forces are unleashing exponential change across every sector of the global economy. The convergence of breakthroughs in science and technology, societal tipping points and generational power shifts are creating unbounded investment potential.
We created ReGen Ventures to catalyze whole-systems change with regenerative technology. ReGen is an early-stage venture capital firm that backs founding teams who are daring to build the companies that will restore our planet.
Why regenerative? We face humanity-threatening challenges that demand whole-systems change this decade. These challenges traverse all aspects of our lives: what we eat, what we wear, where we live, what we build and how we move around. Rather than take a binary utopian/dystopian perspective, we can re-imagine the core principles upon which our life-sustaining systems are designed. We focus on solutions that transform entire systems and ultimately impact every corner of the global economy.
The most transformative companies will catalyze exponential as opposed to linear units of progress. I know that sounds like the recipe for every venture success, but in the sectors we are talking about and the challenges we are tackling, exponential progress has been hard to create.
To do so, we believe these companies will rethink the relationship between people and natural systems and tap our unbounded human ingenuity to creatively redefine entire sectors. For example, rather than invest in an incrementally less harmful form of beef production we want to back the company that is an entirely new paradigm for protein production. A company that creates previously uncontemplated food solutions that taste better, are better for you, better for the planet and that can be delivered at a fraction of the cost. Thanks to today’s advances in cellular biology this is possible, but it takes a systemic rather than incremental mindset to imagine it.
Status Quo > Sustainability > Regenerative
Picture a continuum of impacts with the current status quo on one end, and regenerative on the other. The status quo has led to the significant negative environmental and human health consequences that are generated today and have been accumulated since the Industrial Revolution. This results in degrading ecosystem value, accelerating negative feedback loops and ultimately builds fragile systems that are hyper-prone to negative shocks.
Sustainability is an approach that seeks to incrementally mitigate, reduce or avoid negative consequences. This is a similar concept to treating symptoms (minimizing damage) in the field of medicine rather than curing the root problem. It’s like removing a blockage from an artery (symptom) without fundamentally changing the patient’s diet and lifestyle (root cause).
By definition, the goal of sustainability is net-neutrality that enables the perpetuation of the current status quo. This is a fine aspiration if you are starting from a place of healthy balance, however, it is grossly insufficient if you are dealing with centuries of accumulated negative consequences. At its best, sustainability generates systems that are robust. Robust systems maintain ecosystem value at its current level but do not build additional ecosystem value and therefore do not undo previously accumulated harm.
A regenerative approach goes well beyond sustainability to actively reverse accumulated negative effects. Regeneration restores, heals and contributes additional value to ecosystems. In fact, it expands the potential of a system. The result is accelerating positive feedback loops that create antifragile systems. Expanding on the medicine metaphor, regeneration is the process of getting well, versus not getting more unwell.
Over the next few months we will be breaking down this high-level thesis into more granular theses for each of our sectors of focus. We will be publishing these as a series of blog posts going forward.
The fundamental transformation of our way of life is accelerating due to the convergence of unstoppable macro forces. Firstly, the proliferation of technology, engineering and biology provides new tools and platforms that make the previously impossible, possible. Secondly, demand for regenerative products is growing 7x that of conventional products with an average 40% price premium [NYU CSB Sustainable Market Share index]. Thirdly, demographic shifts are accelerating the transfer of wealth, purchasing power and workforce to a generation that prioritizes personal health, purposeful work and the health of the environment.
We agree with our friends at USV that climate solutions will be to this decade what cloud computing was to the last. Moreover, investing in systemic transformation with multi-decade tailwinds is paradoxically less risky than a less ambitious approach. These companies are expanding systemic potential and turning established markets on their heads, in the process redefining and creating their own sectors and markets.
Technologies such as synthetic biology, cloud computing, quantum chemistry and artificial intelligence are foundational platforms that enable the acceleration of evolutionary processes, compressed development timelines and make the previously impossible imminently possible.
We realise that we are early in this transformation but are certain of the inevitability of the future we are investing for. The only way to deliver outsized returns is to make decisions that are non-consensus at the time, but which become consensus (h/t Howard Marks). While investing in truly regenerative solutions today may feel overly ambitious to many, we believe it will be the obvious choice when looking back at this moment.
Global From Day Zero
Venture capital is a foundational building block in this super evolution, much like soil microbes are the building blocks of our food system. We believe venture exists to fund the step-changes that build a better future. It could be argued that traditional VC (with some notable exceptions) is not currently ambitious enough on a planetary scale and that an opportunity exists to back companies where these factors converge.
ReGen Ventures invests globally because we know that the talent and ambition to solve these challenges can come from anywhere in the world. We fund companies from seed through growth and activate our network of advisors, technical experts and capital partners to supercharge the companies that are driving transformation.
We fundamentally believe that backing the next generation of entrepreneurs — harnessing the power of science, technology and biology to create a future where humans and nature live in harmony with one another — is the single greatest investment opportunity of our lives.
We are grateful to our (un)limited partners who are trusting us as stewards of their capital to back teams of visionary pragmatists to build a better future now and for future generations. It is a tremendous privilege to be working with you all and we can’t wait to share more soon.
Dan and the ReGen Ventures Team