The Engine Releases Challenging 2021 Tech Landscape Report Detailing Record Investments in Climate Change, Human Health, and Advanced Systems and Infrastructure Startups


CAMBRIDGE, Mass .– (COMMERCIAL THREAD– Today, The Engine, the MIT-born venture capital firm that invests in early stage Tough Tech companies solving the world’s most pressing problems, released its report, 2021 Tough Tech Landscape, with data provided by PitchBook, the leading data provider for the private and public equity markets. The data and analysis results include details of Tough Tech’s transactions and exits since the category’s inception in 2016, marking a 48.7% year-over-year increase in the value of transactions from 2019 to 2020. This also highlights the continued momentum in 2021, with $ 77.5 billion in venture capital invested in the first 8 months of the year, on track to surpass $ 115 billion. dollars on 5,800 transactions by the end of the year.

“MIT conceived ‘Tough Tech’ as ​​a new category when it created The Engine just five years ago, providing LPs with an investment vehicle that drives both significant progress for the world, as well as massive financial returns, ”said The Engine CEO and Managing Partner. Katie Rae. “There is an urgent need to improve human health and agriculture, build resilient systems, enable adaptive infrastructure, and reverse and adapt to climate change. We are supporting more startups as they extract cutting-edge science from the lab and into the world, setting us on track for a record year in 2021. ”

Robust technology in numbers

Driven by revolutionary technical advancements, the increasing adoption and expansion of business applications, and macroeconomic factors such as government policies and regulatory developments, the Tough Tech investment environment is flourishing.

The strengths of the Tough Tech category overall include:

  • $ 307.6 billion total venture capital invested in Tough Tech from January 2016 to August 2021
  • $ 77.5 billion total venture capital investment in Tough Tech from January 2021 to August 2021; about to overtake $ 115 billion invested capital and number of transactions 5,800 by the end of the year.
  • $ 80.7 million Tough Tech’s late-stage pre-currency median valuation hits new high
  • 48.7% year-over-year increase in investments in Tough Tech VC from 2019 to 2020

PitchBook data shows record activity in 2021 linked to the volume and size of Tough Tech transactions for the period January to August 2021, including:

Climate change

  • $ 22.3 billion VC invested in climate change companies
  • 957 Venture capital transactions carried out in Climate Change

Human health

  • $ 41.7 billion VC invested in human health companies
  • 2,057 Venture capital transactions carried out in human health

Advanced systems and infrastructure

  • $ 20 billion VC invests in advanced systems and infrastructure companies
  • 1,200 Venture capital transactions carried out in Advanced Systems & Infrastructure

Fifteen industries are examined in The Engine’s 2021 Tough Tech Landscape report, covering 3D printing, advanced manufacturing, quantum computing, food technologies, AI & ML, the built environment, clean technologies, life sciences, materials, medical technologies, mobility, nanotechnology, robotics & drones, semiconductors and space technology.

To download the full report and see detailed data and analyst commentary on the various Tough Tech industries, visit the Tough Tech Landscape 2021.

Register here to virtually attend The Engine’s upcoming 4th Annual Tough Tech Summit October 27-28, 2021. Speakers include US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo; Managing Director of the International Finance Corporation, Makhtar Diop; Former Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of IBM, Ginni Rometty; and much more.

About the engine

The Engine is a Cambridge MA-based venture capital firm. It was designed and created by MIT in 2016 to address the unmet need for ongoing support for startups with the potential to solve complex existential challenges and have a positive and material impact on society. The engine provides the long-term capital, knowledge, connections, along with the specialized equipment, space, and labs these transformative startups need to thrive. The Engine has raised two funds, totaling over $ 526 million, and has invested in 37 Tough Tech startups since 2017. For more information, visit

About PitchBook

PitchBook is a financial data and software company that provides transparency in capital markets to help professionals discover and execute opportunities confidently and efficiently. PitchBook collects and analyzes in-depth data across the entire venture capital, private equity, and M&A landscape, including public and private companies, investors, funds, investments, exits, and people . Company data and analysis is available through the PitchBook platform, industry news, and in-depth reports. Founded in 2007, PitchBook has offices in Seattle, San Francisco, New York and London and serves more than 45,000 professionals around the world. In 2016, Morningstar acquired PitchBook, which now operates as an independent subsidiary.

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