5 promising fusion startups that aren’t unicorns — yet

The biggest news last week wasn’t another of Elon Musk’s Twitter tantrums, but the announcement that scientists had finally cracked one of fusion power’s biggest challenges — successfully getting more energy out of a controlled fusion reaction than they had put in.

Fusion power, which has always seemed like science fiction and just about as plausible, suddenly took a very tangible step toward reality.

That doesn’t mean that anyone is going to hook a fusion power plant up to the grid tomorrow or even in 10 years. But it does give a boost to a field that’s been brimming with confidence of late. A confluence of advances has led to a tidal wave of startups and investments. In the last year alone, investors bet $2.7 billion on fusion startups.

Many of those investments have been part of enormous rounds raising hundreds of millions of dollars in capital. No surprise — fusion power is hard tech, and it’ll take concerted research and developments over many years to bring it to fruition.

But what if you’re an investor who doesn’t have tens of millions in dry powder earmarked for fusion? Thankfully, not all fusion startups are unicorns. There are lots of new companies chasing novel ideas for power plants as well as software companies and suppliers hoping to build the supply chain for what could be a $40 trillion industry, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

Here are five companies that we’re keeping an eye on.

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