Meet Chiara Covone, COO and Founding Partner at Una Terra: A New Venture Capital Fund, Marrying Technology and Sustainability

Una Terra is our commitment and promise to make a positive impact with our work in this world. We only have one habitable planet (as far as we know) – hence the name Una Terra (Italian & Spanish for One Earth) – and we are running out of time.

Una Terra is a €200m Venture Capital Fund, focused on driving and supporting sustainable and green tech founders. Our fund portfolio is dedicated to accelerating the adoption of existing and future technologies that help – directly and/or indirectly – with climate change mitigation and biodiversity loss recovery.

In fact, Una Terra is my dream come true: Leveraging our combined 100 years’ business experience and acumen to serve planet earth.

We believe the next 10 years are critical for humanity: radical acceleration in the adoption and scaling of sustainable technologies is required to achieve the global UN SDGs.

Our commitment is to reduce CO2 emissions by 2 Gt per year from the environment and 5% of plastic waste in the oceans by 2030, and we do this through our portfolio company, helping them with a full fledged venture studio to accelerate the growth and impact.

What do you think makes Una Terra unique?

Our edge? We are commercial innovators at heart.

In too many well-intended ESG start-ups and scale-ups, we see good money going after bad.

At Una Terra, we hunt for ideas grounded in the commercial rigour required to be successful.

Our founding team, together with selected partners and advisors, bring to the table solid, real-life experience in scaling products and services in the most competitive markets on earth.

We’re not afraid to admit we’re brutally commercial. When it comes to the Una Terra Venture Fund, we combine focused strategy with passionate people and smart capital.

Our full-fledged Venture Studio leverages our extensive experience by working closely with the founders giving them hands-on support to actively help them scale-up.

The result? No green wishing, just green impact.


How has the company evolved over the last couple of years?

Una Terra, as such, did not exist two years ago, but the idea was already there.

Over the past few years – committed to contributing positively in the ESG agenda – I was actively making direct investments in companies that could accelerate solutions for climate change.

But I was frustrated by the structure of the funding; and this is how the germ of an idea began to form – creating an ESG-dedicated fund that focused on driving and supporting sustainable, green tech and innovation. No greenwashing. No greenwishing.

I believe in people as our biggest resource and so, finding the right partners with whom to build a fund was the first fundamental milestone. Luca Zerbini and I had met some years back at an Ellen McArthur Foundation Conference when we were both working for packaging corporations, and we decided to join forces to bring to life our shared vision of championing sustainability through a dedicated Venture Capital fund. Costas Papikonomou and Marcela Navarro quickly emerged as the additional obvious choices to complete the founding team and, together, in 2021, we founded Una Terra.

2022 is the year of the launch. Our portfolio already consists of 5 amazing European start-ups, three of which have female leaders as CEOs, and all have clear ESG performance targets, measured using standardised metrics focused on CO2 reduction and fugitive plastics.

What can we hope to see from Una Terra in the future?

Our goal is to eliminate from the environment 2 GTCO2 per year by 2030, which is approximately 5% of the total CO2 emissions.

Paradoxically, although a trillion $ is spent every year on sustainability, innovation is not being prioritised, with too much funding being directed towards existing technologies and infrastructure. In fact, over $30T are flowing to large cap companies with questionable ESG credentials (according to the Global Sustainable Investment Review), while very little (around $0.2tr) is going to innovative growth companies and potential Impact Unicorns, whose business models are inherently impact-driven.

Una Terra’s ambition is to help shift the impact investment to where it is most impactful and meaningful, by funding companies that spearhead innovation and advancement in sustainability in an effort to curb climate change.

Our Fund is set to raise €50 million by June 2022 to invest in ESG start-ups, mainly in Europe, and we have a target of €200 million by the end of Q1 2023. The ultimate aim is to raise €1 billion by 2025 with around 20 companies invested at different investment rounds.

And finally, we are here to confirm our belief that people, planet and profit can live in harmony by promising our 30% IRR. We know we don’t have to choose between individual prosperity and the health of our planet.