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NatureMetrics: measuring biodiversity for a healthier planet

When biodiversity scientist Dr Kat Bruce set up NatureMetrics in 2015, she wanted to revolutionize the way biodiversity is measured and monitored. By analyzing tiny traces of DNA that organisms leave behind in water and soil, she aimed to create data sets that could lead to swift, affordable and meaningful action to preserve the planet's endangered biodiversity.

NatureMetrics, assess your impact on biodiversity

A decade later, that vision is becoming a reality. Not only is NatureMetrics’s measurement of biodiversity increasingly comprehensive and widespread, but its digital platform is easy to use, providing valuable insights on entire ecosystems that allow for accountability, corrective actions and monitoring over time. 

Through its partnership with BNP Paribas, NatureMetrics has been able to magnify its impact by bringing its pioneering product to a far wider audience. This way the “nature tech” company is making a much greater contribution to preserving the environment, with only 23% of the planet’s species and 16% of its habitats in good health after a steady decline in biodiversity over recent decades. This is important, not only because over half of global GDP is directly dependent on healthy ecosystems (the other half is indirectly dependent on them), but biodiversity is the very foundation of human civilization.

We were looking for investors who shared our mission and were committed to improving the state of the natural world,” says Bruce, who qualifies BNP Paribas as a leading financial institution in the environmental space. “We were looking for more than just money. We were looking for credibility, access to the market, and the ability to test out our ideas and understand how to optimize them for the markets we were seeking to enter,” she explains.

Game-changing eDNA technology

Traditional methods of measuring biodiversity are time-consuming and costly, relying on direct observation and manual monitoring of individual species. But NatureMetrics’s ground-breaking approach can save months and reduce costs by orders of magnitude, democratizing data collection and creating a scalable solution for monitoring biodiversity

NatureMetrics’s solution also trumps traditional methods because they “only look at the very surface layer of biodiversity, the big stuff that's easy to see. But what really contributes to how our ecosystems are functioning is often the small stuff. It's the insects, it's the microorganisms, the fungi and those things we've had no eyes on. It’s the invisible part of biodiversity that's often the most important,” adds Bruce.

Samples are collected locally with straightforward kits and then sent to NatureMetrics’s laboratory where scientists identify which species are present so that they can assess an ecosystem’s health. Instead of seeking DNA from individual organisms, NatureMetrics harnesses eDNA (environmental DNA) technology to capture and analyze traces of every single living organism, down to invisible bacteria and fungi which can provide the most accurate reflection of the health of an ecosystem.

BNP Paribas has been very important in helping us work out the commercial application of our technology for corporates and organizations who are starting to measure nature for the first time.

Olivier Warnan & Dimple Patel

Partner BNP Paribas Solar Impulse Venture Fund / CEO NatureMetrics

eDNA is a game-changer for the industry, and NatureMetrics has mastered the use of that technology. But what made a huge difference to us was its vision to use the digital tool,” says Olivier Warnan, partner of BNP Paribas’s Solar Impulse Venture Fund (SIVF), which first invested in NatureMetrics in 2022. Dedicated to investments in innovative technologies that support the ecological transition, this was SIVF’s first ever investment, following BNP Paribas’s cleantech investment model.

It's all about accuracy and how reliable your data is. When using eDNA, we can go to the market and offer reliable data… and nature is going to be the next carbon,” he adds, arguing that just as companies currently have to report on their carbon footprint, soon they will be required to provide evidence of their impact on biodiversity.

SIVF’s funding has enabled NatureMetrics to scale up operations, develop its product and business model, identify new market opportunities and secure new clients, as biodiversity shot up the corporate agenda. Since 2022, NatureMetrics has shifted towards a subscription model with the launch of a digital platform, the world’s first nature performance monitoring service powered by eDNA technology that allows clients to use their data with an easily accessible digital dashboard.

NatureMetrics harnesses eDNA technology to capture and analyze traces of every single living organism.

Making technology accessible to as many people as possible

BNP Paribas has been very important in helping us work out the commercial application of our technology for corporates and organizations who are starting to measure nature for the first time,” explains Dimple Patel, NatureMetrics’s CEO. “We are taking eDNA technology out of the labs, moving it beyond conservation and restoration projects and making it not just commercially viable but relevant across multiple industry verticals.” 

With assistance from BNP Paribas, in 2024 NatureMetrics will launch a new round of funding to support further expansion, especially in North America, as well as to increase its use of satellite imagery and bioacoustics. The plan is also to hire more data scientists and AI experts to aggregate and synthesize biodiversity data – both species and habitats – to “build a more comprehensive, holistic view of biodiversity across the globe”, according to Patel.

By ensuring that its data and technology is accessible, NatureMetrics now has over 500 clients operating in 100 countries, including multinational corporations like Anglo American and Nestlé, as well as NGOs, wildlife restoration groups, and ESG experts. But Bruce believes this is just the beginning, as biodiversity measurement becomes ever more important for the corporate world. 

In NatureMetrics’s laboratory, scientists identify which species are present so that they can assess an ecosystem’s health.

Following the adoption in 2022 of the Global Biodiversity Framework at the COP 15 meetings in Montreal, where 188 countries pledged to address biodiversity loss and restore ecosystems, the regulatory and voluntary landscape has grown rapidly, due to the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures, the Science Based Targets Network, and the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. This is expected to lift biodiversity reporting up in the corporate agenda, clearly benefiting NatureMetrics, whose platform is consistent with emerging regulatory requirements.

Businesses are now feeling that there's an inevitability that they are going to be more and more required to report and disclose on their impacts and dependencies on nature,” says Bruce. “That's driving the companies that want to be at the leading edge to get their house in order now and to start thinking about how they're going to do that.”

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