ClimateHaven opens in New Haven, hoping to accelerate climate technology solutions

13 Nov 2023


State and local leaders believe a new initiative in New Haven could further propel the city to the leading edge of climate change innovation.

ClimateHaven, New Haven’s first climate technology incubator opened this week with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by Gov. Ned Lamont. The incubator is a nonprofit organization that provides support and space to climate technology entrepreneurs.

“I believe innovation is the answer to just about everything,” said Lamont to the assembled guests. “I’d like Connecticut to continue to be the leader when it comes to climate change and a carbon-free future.”

ClimateHaven was developed with a $910,000 grant from the state Community Investment Fund. The first 10,000 square feet of office and co-working space are nearing completion. An additional 8,000 square feet will be complete early next year.

“We are very lucky to have support from the state,” said ClimateHaven CEO Ryan Dings. “We are really fortunate to be seeing the leadership that Gov. Lamont and his administration is having on our transition to a clean energy economy.”

In a series of opening pitches, the heads of 10 of the startups addressed a packed crowd full of local and state officials, academics and investors.

“What we do is recycle lithium ion batteries,” said Lonnie Garris, founder and CEO of Cool Amps, a New Haven-based technology startup. The company chemically dissolves the metals of spent batteries for low-energy recycling. “It’s really a departure from the current method, which ships batteries over to large scale industrial centers to have them smelted.”

Garris, born and raised in New Haven, is a retired Air Force colonel with degrees from Yale and Southern Connecticut State University. He wanted to build a technology company here.

“It’s great when home-grown talent can come home,” Garris said.

Seventeen technology companies call ClimateHaven home. Among them are Blue Green Materials, a company that makes carbon-negative concrete from marine materials, Catala a low-energy water purification company and Velocity, an e-bike company.

“We’re looking at toxic molecules like PFAS and dioxane, because those molecules are really difficult to break down,” said Claire Chouinard, co-founder of Catala and a Yale graduate student. “And we can do that with an advanced oxidation process.”

As the crowd mingled, people stopped to take photos of a prototype, weatherized e-bike.

“People want to bike until it gets rainy and cold then they ditch their bikes,” said John Havlik co-founder of Velocity from inside his prototype. He demonstrated the lights and turn signals of the enclosed bike he and his partner Michael Murphy built on nights and weekends. “What we wanted to do with our Velocity Raptor which is a legal e-bike… is solve that problem.”

As the space expands, ClimateHaven hopes to host 25 to 30 startups in early stages of development. The hope is that it will emulate the success of Greentown Labs in Boston, a major startup incubator.

The incubator also received support from Yale, Connecticut Innovations, MakeHaven and New Haven law firm Wiggin and Dana. State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes, Josh Geballe, managing director of Yale Ventures, and Jason Price, founder of artist accelerator NXTHVN, serve on the board of ClimateHaven.

Recently reelected New Haven mayor Justin Elicker was enthusiastic in his support of ClimateHaven.

“We’re going to be one of the top 10 climate hubs in the nation,” said Elicker. “New Haven is just booming and of our strategic advantages that we’ve had is the growth of the life sciences sector… I see a similar advantage on the climate side.”

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