Accelerating the rate of climate innovation

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Getty Images
Clare Kelly
by Clare Kelly
22 April 2021
The next 10 years will make or break any chance the world has of arresting climate change and it is imperative that we accelerate climate solutions that will give us a fighting chance of success.

Third Derivative (D3) is a joint venture of RMI and New Energy Nexus, committed to finding, funding, honing, and scaling the world’s most promising climate innovations.

What makes D3 so unique as an accelerator is its combination of start-ups, capital, corporate support, and world leading market, regulatory, and policy insights.

Bryan Hassin, CEO of D3, understands that leading a climate tech start-up is hard, especially when forced to go it alone. “At Third Derivative, we know how tough it is to lead a climate tech start-up because we are climate tech investors, corporate executives, market and policy analysts, and – most crucially – entrepreneurs. If you want to be part of something bigger than just accelerating your venture – if you want to accelerate the entire rate of climate innovation – then come join us in solving the climate crisis together,” said Bryan.

Third Derivative
Third Derivative

The D3 model was built with a deep understanding of the challenges facing start-ups in climate tech, summarised as the four ‘Valleys of Death’: Start-Up Formation, Product Development, Market Validation and Establishing a Track Record.

According to D3, to cross these valleys entrepreneurs need to work with engineers, corporations, and investors with wildly different risk and reward appetites. When investors have a hard time grasping how a start-up can cross from one valley to the next, they hesitate to invest – and when start-ups cannot attract investment, their vision crumbles.

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Getty Images

“Unfortunately, many traditional accelerators, which nominally exist to make things easier for start-ups, divide start-ups from investors and corporate partners. They hold the investors and corporates up on a pedestal while parading start-ups in front of them to beg for money or favours on demo day – all while ignoring the critical role of markets and policy for start-up success. Given the dearth of climate tech success stories – especially the hard science innovation we need to combat the climate crisis at scale – coming out of accelerators, we believe this model as a lot of room for innovation / improvement,” said Bryan.

As businesses all over the world focus on Earth Day and its theme of ‘Restoring Our Earth’, Virgin Unite is proud to support D3 and its world class collaborative – leading the way in supporting and scaling the world’s most important low-carbon climate solutions.

Applications are open to become part of the next D3 cohort and you can join the conversation over at

In December 2014, Carbon War Room (which was co-founded in 2009 by Richard Branson and a team of like-minded entrepreneurs wanting to speed up the adoption of market-based solutions to climate change) merged with RMI. RMI is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organisation working to accelerate the clean energy transition and improve lives.