All Thayer News

Greenshot Teams Hard at Work on Planet-Saving Startups

Feb 28, 2024   |   Dartmouth News

For the past two months, nine groups of entrepreneurs, taking aim at devastating problems arising from climate change, have been climbing a steep learning curve in Dartmouth's fast-paced new accelerator, Greenshot.

Robert Halvorsen '17 Th'17, from Pacto Medical practices a pitch during the Greenshot orientation last month. (Photo by Alberto Paniagua)

Led by the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society and the Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship, in close partnership with Tuck School of Business and Thayer School of Engineering as well as external partners including Cleantech Open, which, since 2005, has trained over 3,750 entrepreneurs, Greenshot aims to prepare sustainability-minded startups to shape and perfect their business plans in preparation for securing the venture capital they need to turn bright ideas into marketable products and processes.

Starting with an on-campus orientation session in January, at which several experienced company founders came to campus to share success stories and strategies, Greenshot participants jumped into a 14-week boot camp, each team learning from experts, including sustainability specialists from Thayer, Irving, and Tuck, how to scale their start-ups, expand marketing reach, and attract capital.

The immediate goal: Demo Day in May at the Magnuson Center's Dartmouth Entrepreneurs Forum in New York City, where finalists will pitch their green ideas to top climate venture capitalists. Winners will be eligible to receive up to $75,000 in funding to move their projects off the drawing board.

The first-round Greenshot participants are:

  • Block Carbon
    Unlocks global market for climate assets
  • Greener
    Sustainable residential landscaping services platform.
  • Green Golf Carbon
    Carbon sequestration for golf courses and managed turf
  • Mach Electric
    Sustainable aviation and materials technologies
  • NET Offset
    Transforming biomass residues into carbon credits
  • Pacto Medical
    Sustainable medical packaging
  • Rune Aero
    Sustainable autonomous aircraft for regional cargo transport
  • Vybe Energy
    AI-assisted and optimized building energy management
  • Woodwall
    Natural wood walls in partnership with regional forests

Driving Solutions in Real Time

The educational programming is virtual, so groups can join from any location, but those who choose to work in Hanover—and seven out of the nine teams do have close affiliations with Dartmouth—may use work and lab space in the Irving Institute building. Areas of focus in Greenshot's inaugural cohort range from low emissions regional air transport to a wood-based alternative to sheetrock.

For Michael May Th'22, an engineering PhD candidate, Greenshot is helping to jumpstart NET Offset, a company he co-founded with Masters in Liberal Arts candidate Baptiste Gibrot. Their collaboration took root in a course taught by Associate Professor of Engineering Mark Laser, which included a class trip to Africa.

"And what we found on that trip is that there is a remarkable amount of agricultural waste that could be leveraged," says May. "And so the question was, could we take that waste and make a product out of it that can solve different societal needs?"

One answer lies in a substance called biochar, which can help enrich soil.

"It's basically taking the waste, burning it without oxygen to isolate and solidify the carbon, combining that biochar with, let's say, compost," says May. "You can package that up and introduce a very low-cost soil amendment."

Another Greenshot proposal seeks to bring certain types of large-scale recreational property, especially golf courses, closer to net-zero operation. That team, led by Brian Morrison '21, is being advised by Professor of Earth Sciences Mukul Sharma and Vikrant Vaze, the Stata Family Career Development Associate Professor of Engineering at Thayer.

"There are tens of thousands of golf courses around the world, and each of them is a big parcel of land. We can mix the top surface of the golf courses with a certain type of basalt sand that, with the right proportion of materials and the correct porosity, moisture, and so on, can combine with atmospheric carbon dioxide and create certain chemicals that can be locked inside the soil for many, many years," Vaze says about the Green Golf Carbon project. "We believe this process also creates plant nutrients, potentially reducing the need for fertilizers."

Vaze says landowners who incorporate such innovative cultivation practices could potentially earn carbon credits and, given the substantial energy and water usage by golf courses and large athletic arenas, going greener could significantly shrink their carbon footprints.

Through these and seven other equally promising projects, Greenshot is widening and deepening collaboration on the West End of campus, linking students and faculty at Thayer, Tuck, Magnuson, and Irving, says Vaze.

"If Dartmouth wants to do something big at this point in time—and we do—then it makes a ton of sense to bring talented people together around climate and environment, combining the tools of technology, business, and entrepreneurship to make a real and lasting difference."

Link to source:

For contacts and other media information visit our Media Resources page.