Jessica Burley
IMPACT INVESTING

Jessica Burley

#160

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Investor at Planet A | Venture Environmentalist

Jessica Burley – The impact of climate change on companies and job creation

“The young people are so motivated to, to take sacrifices also in salary and so on, in order to work in something more impactful”

ABOUT

Jessica Burley is an investor at Planet A Ventures, and active in the climate ecosystem, leading the Berlin arm for Climate Mosaic. Jessica studied Politics and International Relations at Cambridge with a focus on climate and worked as a Climate Innovation Researcher for the United Nations Development Program. She got deeper into the world of climate tech when leading the authorship team for the European chapter of the world’s first textbook on lab-grown meat and developed this interest by working at a pre-seed circular economy startup, before joining climate VC. Today she applies her research background to understanding the technologies and predicting the trends in climate.

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THE FULL INTERVIEW

Jessica Burley

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery: Welcome to Impact Investing, brought to you by the Supporters Fund from the water Capital of the world, Marseilles, France. I’m your host, Jeffrey JP Potvin. And let’s please welcome from the largest open air art gallery in the world, Berlin, Germany. Our guest, Jessica Birley from Planet Ventures. Welcome, Jessica. It’s a real pleasure having you join us today.

Jessica: Hi, Jeffrey. Thanks a lot. Very happy to be here.

Jeffery: Well, I’m very excited to get the opportunity to dive into Planet Ventures and yourself because, one, you’ve taken a really cool, different way, approach and journey into the venture world. So I think that’s pretty exciting. And of course, what you guys are doing in Berlin, Berlin, Germany is also very exciting. But before we dive into all of that and start to break through all this, maybe what we can do is we can start off by learning a little bit more about yourself all the way back from your university research days to where you are today, and then share one thing about you that nobody else would know.

Jessica: Sure. Happily. so maybe starting out with the. The one thing that not many people would know is that, during my drive to work on environmental sustainability, doesn’t come from a love of nature. Originally, at least, since I’ve had, since adulthood, I’ve had, more deep appreciation for natural beauty. But I grew up in inner city London, so I didn’t have so many opportunities to to visit areas of great natural beauty. so environmentalism, for the sake of, of trees or lakes or mountains didn’t initially resonate so much with me. Actually, my my interest in climate originally stems from our, social impact concern. So, as I mentioned, growing up in, inner city London, it was also, the most deprived part of the UK back then. And I saw a lot of, inequality and, poverty. So I was really driven from a young age to, to work on that. but I, I sort of in teenage hood, I’d say, learned more about how climate change is impacting social issues. So, driving up environmental refugees and, and really hurting those on the margins the most. so I wanted to, to work on this sort of, plug the, the problem right at the source. rather than work a little bit further downstream. And, at the time that I was looking into it, countries were really breaking all of their commitments to climate, and companies were not, incentivized in any way to make any change. So there wasn’t so much in this space and also weren’t many courses directly focused on, on climate change. So I actually studied politics and international relations at university and focused as much of my research as I could on climate related international relations and environmental sustainability. and so I followed that track. When I left university, I went and worked at the UNDp for a program that was financing Clément entrepreneurship. yet ultimately I felt more aligned with the innovation that I was, researching then than actually working in the sort of big organization. And I, in my free time, was freelance writing for, the first textbook on lab grown meat, which was published by Senator Agriculture Society. I wrote the European chapter, initially focusing on the policy side of. That’s what I had a background in. But I through this got increasingly excited by the market and by the potential of one, one technology to completely alter an entire market. I mean, this is also, quite a few years ago. So it was a time when there was a lot pegged on, on central agriculture to sort of so far, our farming, issues with, with environment. and so I followed that passion and I moved to Berlin and joined a startup in circular economy. it’s a really fantastic city. As you mentioned earlier, that, you’re interested in it. the self-starter scene here is very strong. It seems like almost every other person is is working on something, and, it’s incredibly vibrant in that sense. and actually, the startup initially, was struggling to raise. So, it, exposed me to the importance of financing and VC to, to to take, off the ground and give legs to, to innovations in the climate space. and so I decided I really love to work in that. I did some shadowing work and some, some courses, but really, I was just very lucky in that I was introduced to Lawrence Leitner, who’s a climate founder and, he founded previously rebuy, which is Europe’s largest attribution platform. And then Tir mobility, which is one of was one of Europe’s fastest growing unicorns when I was working with him. And he actually committed 100% of his stake in, tier mobility to reinvest in the climate ecosystem. So I was sort of helping him. it began with sort of angel investments, and we pulled it out into a bit more of a fund. still just one up, but we we got a bit of a syndicate together, and we, made 16 investments together across different verticals of climate, which is super exciting. but at the same time, I got to meet Planet A as we had a co-investment and was very, impressed by the unique approach to, measuring impact. and so I, they were looking to expand the team. I was looking to work in a little bit of a larger team. And so I joined them about two years ago. so, yeah, as you mentioned, a very untraditional route to work. I like to think that a bit of understanding policy comes in handy now and then as a green tech markets do, I very, heavily influenced by policy. and, and the research skills, of course, come in handy every now and then.

Jeffery: That’s awesome. I think that, to kind of unpack that and it’s great and interesting to hear that you’ve kind of morph not only into the role, but your understanding of climate tech also morphed because, as you said, you came from London and then kind of jumped into this. And I will say that most people, that I’ve met from, in Germany and now that you’re coming into Germany, is that they’re very outdoorsy. everywhere that I’ve traveled, I always run into somebody and it’s not in a city. It’s in a mountain somewhere, and they’re always German. It’s very rare that you meet other people, because I think Germans just love to get outside, which is brilliant. I got to say, Canadians do as well. But maybe not to the same extent. so it’s pretty cool that you’ve kind of morphed into all of these and, and of course, now to where you are today. So if you take and go back a little bit from the research side, you know, I think that this probably has made a really a big difference in your ability to look at the investment field. Is that a lot of investments does come from deep research and understanding of markets, and understanding of where these businesses would fit. How much do you think that that’s kind of played in your ability to work in this space? Obviously, later on you drove into governance and you got into ar