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DEALS | Are offices on the cusp of affordable hydrogen?

A company piloting hydrogen production in buildings has raised $30m to decarbonise heating systems that have few renewable options.

Modern Electron is developing a gas-to-hydrogen converter that takes natural gas within homes or offices and reduces it to a mix of solid carbon and hydrogen. The hydrogen is then used for heat and energy in the building.

Instead of releasing carbon into the atmosphere, the converter collects it in a form that can potentially be re-used – as graphite – though it could end up in a landfill.

Although Modern Electron’s idea is not carbon-free, it aims to reduce waste in existing heating systems that still use natural gas, especially where renewable electrification is either inaccessible or still too expensive.

CEO Tony Pan has previously argued that this approach – what he calls “hybrid heating” – is a step towards decarbonisation in the same way as hybrid cars.

Alongside its hydrogen pilots, Modern Electron will use proceeds from the fundraise to roll out an existing product, which converts wasted heat in boilers into electricity.

Modern Electric plans to integrate this technology with “leading manufacturers of HVAC and energy systems”, it said.

The Series B fundraise was led by At One Ventures, with participation from new investors Extantia, Starlight Ventures, Valo Ventures and strategic investors Irongrey and Wieland Group.

Other Proptech deals

Name | FloodFlash

Sector | Climate insurance

What it does | Offers flood insurance that pays out within 48 hours if water reaches an agreed level in a building – which the startup tracks with sensors.

Deal details | FloodFlash raised $12m in a Series A fundraising round led by Chicago-based Buoyant Ventures with Munich Re Ventures featuring as an investor and commercial partner. Other participants included Sony Financial Ventures/Global Brain, MS&AD Ventures and PropTech1.

Why? | Flooding has caused more than $151bn of damage across the US in the last 40 years, but very few homeowners and businesses have flood insurance. FloodFlash hopes to fill the gap by making pay-outs easier and faster.

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Name | Numa Group

Sector | Hotels

What it does | Operates hotels – more than 2,500 across Europe – using digital tools that automate processes and price rooms “intelligently”.

Deal details | Numa raised $45m in a fundraising round led by DN Capital Group and Headline. Existing investors Cherry Ventures, Soravia, Kreos Capital, TruVenturo and Scope Hanson also participated.

Why? | Numa claims to significantly cut costs and give hotels greater flexibility with its operating software. The company said it achieved 85% booking occupancy across its European portfolio last year, bucking industry-wide declines.

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Name | Houwzer

Sector | Residential

What it does | Seeks to make homeownership in the US faster and more affordable by offering “buy before you sell” products that give users the funds to make an all cash offer on a new house while also making an offer on their current home.

Deal details | Houwzer raised $118m, including $18m in equity and $100m in debt, led by Edison Partners.

Why? | Dan Herscovici, partner at Edison, said: “Houwzer’s NPS is category-leading, and these new products will remove friction for consumers, making them more competitive and confident in the fierce housing market. This is truly the smartest way for consumers to transact real estate.”

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April 19 2023, 9:27 am

CREtech, the largest international community of professionals  devoted to technological and sustainable innovation in the real estate sector, announced today that Stephanie Hyde, Chief Executive UK, JLL, and Raj Singh, Managing Partner, JLL Spark, will join the Main Stage speaker lineup for the Built World’s largest innovation and sustainability conference series, CREtech London, this 10th-11th May.

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