The impact of human life on earth is under increasing scrutiny. Across the world, targets are being set and plans put in place to minimize the harm we are doing to our planet, in order to better protect it for generations to come. Nature data is one such metric being used to create a nature positive economy.
Based in the UK, NatureMetrics is a DNA-based biodiversity monitoring company. Today, it has just announced a raise of more than €14 million in fresh funding. The investment was led by urban sustainability-focused VC fund 2150 with participation from Ananda Impact Ventures, SWEN Capital Partners’ Blue Ocean and BNP Paribas Solar Impulse Venture Fund, and follow-on from Systemiq Capital.
Using cutting-edge technology, the startup, which was founded in 2014, brings the power of genetics to frontline ecology. With comprehensive DNA analysis, the platform monitors biodiversity and measures nature capital in the environment. As a result, biodiversity becomes measurable and the team is able to support businesses to transition to a nature positive economy by providing the data with which to drive good decisions for business and nature.
The mission is to transform the scale, comprehensiveness and accessibility of biodiversity data around the world, creating a comprehensive database of life on earth which will help us identify how best to protect it.
Katie Critchlow, CEO of NatureMetrics explained: “For too long society has been failing nature because we haven’t had the tools to set and monitor targets. We want to make biodiversity data simple and easy to understand for decision-makers.”
The company and its investors are responding to an anticipated surge in nature data requirements from ESG-conscious investors and regulators as nature becomes the ‘next carbon’ for data disclosure. As a result, industries as wide-ranging as infrastructure, energy, marine, conservation and construction will increasingly be affected by requirements to manage biodiversity-related risks and impacts at an asset level.
The World Bank has estimated that an additional 300 million houses will be needed globally by 2030 to account for anticipated urban demand. The challenge is to meet this demand in a Net Zero Carbon and Nature Positive economy. DNA-based nature monitoring will enable such challenges to be met at scale by both quantifying impact and guiding better decisions to minimize, reduce and compensate for such impacts.
NatureMetrics’ first long term data product in development is called iNPI (Intelligent Net Positive Impact) – a long-term managed service for site-based clients wanting to demonstrate a quantifiable net gain in biodiversity. The product combines eDNA with geospatial data to deliver landscape-level maps of biodiversity value.
Other products in development include a marine health monitoring dashboard and a restoration tracker enabling long-term monitoring of ecosystem improvements suitable for remediation and also with potential for the growing nature-based solutions sector.
Katie continued: “Our labs and our data engine are making sure biodiversity data is delivered at scale and across the whole tree of life, not just what we can see with our eyes. Our new Nature Intelligence team led by our co-founder Professor Doug Yu will take that complex ‘big data’ on nature and enable good decision making by transforming long lists of species into simple metrics which can be discussed in a boardroom and used to drive better investment, buying and impact mitigation decisions.”
Already, the impact-driven startup has sold its DNA-based biodiversity monitoring products in more than 80 countries. The plan now is to use this fresh funding to build a series of new digital products to enable its customers to set and monitor long-term targets on nature whilst accelerating its expansion into international markets. NatureMetrics already runs two eDNA labs in the UK and Canada, which have delivered comprehensive data from the soil, freshwater and marine samples on species from bacteria to blue whales. To date, NatureMetrics has served more than 450 clients across the renewable energy, infrastructure, marine water and banking sectors.
Margarita Skarkou, Investor at 2150 added: ‘To truly solve the climate crisis we need a data driven approach to understanding how we as human beings are causing the sixth extinction. Biodiversity data in particular has not been quantified as effectively as other data sources, yet its measurement at scale is critical to protecting and preserving it. By leveraging the decreasing costs of genomics and its world-leading academic expertise in environmental DNA and analytics, NatureMetrics is essentially creating the Google Maps for nature, so we in the future can understand and report on how the Earth is doing in a heartbeat. This will enable any industry with physical presence to make more sustainable decisions and facilitate the acceleration of nature-based solutions to combat climate change. We are excited to back the team to help them scale globally.”