Top 50 Emerging Leaders 2021 continued (in alphabetical order by CVC unit): Antoine Delafargue, managing director and chief technology officer, Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures

Antoine Delafargue is managing director and chief technology officer for Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures (TCNV), the corporate venture capital (CVC) arm of energy company Total, where he focuses on energy transition. Prior to joining the unit in January 2017, he had spent 12 years at the parent firm where he served in various capacities leveraging his engineering background.

TCNV president Girish Nadkarni said: “In addition to leading deals, Antoine acts as the first line of defence in evaluating emerging technologies. He brings a broad as well as deep knowledge of a wide range of technologies. In addition, he has excellent deal sense and has led a number of investments and serves as a board advisor on many companies.”

Regarding his CVC journey, Delafargue explained: “I [started as] the head of petrophysics, in charge of rock analysis labs and expertise teams, to become an investor in another branch of the group. In the end, the change was well accepted, perhaps because the respective managers could sense my keen interest for startups, and wide-ranging curiosity in all matters technical.

“I have always been interested in startups, and I actually created a small business aside from my work at Total, in underwater systems engineering. Going through fundraising, embarking partners to design and build something quite new – the smallest ever cruise submarine – proved very exciting, so I started rationalising that I should merge my day job at Total and night job on my other projects into a more streamlined life with a single day job.”

Delafargue has led the unit’s investments in drone-enabled autonomous logistics startup Elroy Air, battery management system developer Otonohm, Hyzon Motors, a producer of hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles.

He added: “But perhaps the greatest satisfaction I have found in this job comes from the specific nature of CVC – trying to assess synergies we could generate by investing, and compare them with the purely financial attractiveness of investment opportunities.”

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.