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US firm to invest $50m in Mena climate tech

Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio. A US VC fund backed by him plans to invest $50m in Mena climate tech startups Creative Commons/Flickr/United Nations
Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio. A US VC fund backed by him plans to invest $50m in Mena climate tech startups
  • Princeville Capital in sector since 2015
  • Abu Dhabi office opened
  • More late-stage funding needed

A US venture capital firm backed by Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio plans to invest $50 million in Mena climate tech startups over the next five years.

Princeville Capital is targeting mature startups with strong growth potential, facilitating quick exits and a clear path to profitability, its co-founder Joaquin Rodriguez Torres told AGBI.

The firm has opened an office in Abu Dhabi, which Torres said “is more focused on climate tech startups than the rest of the Middle East.”

“There is a willingness to develop the ecosystem – probably more than other places,” he said.

In 2019 Oscar-winnng actor and environmentalist DiCaprio joined Princeville’s climate tech division as a senior advisor, investing some of his personal fortune in it as well, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Princeville has been active in the sector since 2015. It has experience in 85 public listings and over 200 mergers and acquisition transactions. 

In 2021, the global tech investment division of the business raised $1.5 billion funding for Turkish e-commerce platform Trendyol, alongside other investors such as the Qatar Investment Authority and General Atlantic.

Torres said the UAE stock market’s growth and government initiatives aimed at facilitating public listings were also crucial factors for VC investment.

However Torres added that availability of capital beyond the early stage was an ongoing concern.

This point was echoed by Farah el Nahlawi, research team lead at venture capital data platform Magnitt, who highlighted the limited number of late-stage VC deals in the first half of 2024. “The region saw only one mega round worth $130 million by SallaApp. However, its stage was undisclosed,” she said.

Investing in the late-stage is riskier due to the bigger amount invested and usually captures a smaller share of the deals closed in the region or country, according to El Nahlawi.

Research by investment platform Wamda found the average ticket size for pre-seed deals rose 10 percent to $820,000. But the average ticket size for late-stage Series C funding declined 74 percent to $170 million.

“We need to develop a deeper pool of capital to ensure continuous funding for startups throughout their growth,” Torres said.

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