The oil major is pivoting away from investing through its $400m fund to focus on smaller earlier-stage investments amid rocketing valuations for climatetech companies.

France-based oil and gas producer TotalEnergies is winding down its CVC unit, TotalEnergies Ventures, and opting to focus on its accelerator, with unit chief Francois Badoual telling Global Corporate Venturing that the organisation was “changing gears”.

The $400m Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures fund is pivoting to an accelerator to focus on smaller earlier-stage investments amid rocketing valuations for climatetech companies and later-stage rounds getting crowded out.

Axios has reported that the CVC unit was set to be cut entirely, but Badoual pushed back against this characterisation that the unit would be dismantled. The venture team will still be involved in the accelerator initiative and continue managing relationships with current portfolio companies.

TotalEnergies launched its accelerator programme, TotalEnergies On, in March to support companies involved in renewable energy generation, distributed energy management, energy storage, power retail, trading and electric mobility.

Signs of the shift towards accelerators came at the end of last year when Edouard Bulteau, a director at the CVC unit,  joined TotalEnergies On and was not replaced at his former position. The unit’s former head, Girish Nadkarni, announced at the turn of the year that he would be leaving TotalEnergies and was replaced by his predecessor Francois Badoual, who had originally headed up the CVC in 2012 before becoming US head in 2017.

TotalEnergies Ventures invests in low-carbon energy and the energy transition, as well as Internet of Things and artificial intelligence technology. It has amassed a portfolio of companies across Europe, North America, Asia and emerging markets, as well as backed other investment funds as a limited partner.

Startups in the portfolio include electric vehicle (EV) predictive route planning platform Chargetrip and charging station producer Volta, hydrogen-fuelled vehicle producer Hyzon, off-grid solar technology developer Zola Electric and renewable microgrids company Canopy.

It is also a limited partner in funds managed by investors like Idinvest Partners, Nio Capital, Sofinnova Partners and Ecomobility Ventures.

TotalEnergies’ chief executive, Patrick Pouyanné, announced on Twitter yesterday that the company would be joining Israel-based energy investor OSEG and conglomerate Delek Group, among others, to set up a new climatetech innovation incubator called NetZero Ventures.

 

Additional reporting by Edison Fu

Image courtesy of TotalEnergies