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Centre for Building Sustainable Value · Matthew Lynch

Venture capital for a better planet: How Ivey alum Murray McCaig shapes the businesses of the future

Jul 12, 2021


As the world grapples with the climate crisis and other sustainability challenges, innovative new businesses will be a key part of the solution. An emerging generation of sustainability-focused entrepreneurs is looking to bring new technologies and business models to market, but how can these businesses grow to achieve profitability and impact?

As with other sectors, this is where venture capital plays a critical role, providing funding, expertise, and a pathway to scale.

Ivey alum, Murray McCaig, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Toronto-based ArcTern Ventures, is at the forefront of this new paradigm in Canada. “I launched ArcTern as I felt it was the best way I could use my experience as a startup founder and CEO to contribute to solving the climate crisis”, McCaig said.

ArcTern Ventures invests broadly in breakthrough technology companies that have a positive impact on climate change and sustainability. Sectors of interest include: clean energy, energy efficiency, the circular economy, food systems, mobility, and advanced manufacturing and materials.

ArcTern’s portfolio includes a diverse array of businesses including Hydrostor, a leader in grid-scale energy storage through compressed air stored underground, and Mosa Meat, one of the global pioneers in low-carbon, cultured meat.

ArcTern also ‘walks the talk’ itself as a certified B-Corporation, meeting independently-verified high standards of high social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.

McCaig highlighted how Ivey equipped him for establishing Arctern. “An Ivey education is very well-suited to assessing new ventures, as each is a unique case study that requires the analytical skills introduced in the program”, he said.  “Ivey prepared me well for my first job post-MBA in the management consulting sector, which is ideal for building broad analytical skills.  Today, ArcTern is hiring most of its talent with these management consulting capabilities, as these individuals adapt quickly to the demands of venture capital”.

The future for ArcTern is bright, with the opportunity space for sustainability-focused venture capital growing rapidly. A recent PwC Report found that global early-stage venture funding for climate technology companies was about $418 million in 2013. However, by 2019, total venture funding had increased to $16.1 billion – a growth rate even higher than experienced by the booming ‘artificial intelligence’ sector.