cleantech insights

The Global Cleantech 100: How we make the (free-range, organic) sausage

Whitney Michael

The nominations are in, the expert panel has been assembled, and we are now very busy finalizing the 2012 Global Cleantech 100, our annual list of the most promising 100 private companies in clean technology innovation. This list is widely regarded as the leading barometer of the shifting and evolving direction of cleantech innovation.

The revealing of the top 100 companies at The Global Cleantech 100 Summit and Gala in October is the culmination of an intensive research process. It’s how we develop this list as much as who is on it, which sets the Global Cleantech 100 apart from other rankings.

Analyst Vince Knowles, has posted here earlier this year on how the methodology of the Global Cleantech 100 list is the industry’s most robust and comprehensive.

While October seems far off, much is underway now to have the list ready for the announcement and celebration at the Italian Embassy. Just a reminder: the Summit and Gala sold-out in 2011 so be sure to reserve your place today.

We are going to “open the kimono” and let you know about some of the key milestones in the creation of this report, downloaded each year by over 5000


The Week in Cleantech – July 16-22


Many exciting deals got done in cleantech last week, but one headline surely worth mentioning is the Chinese city of Xinyu’s bailout of its local economic engine, LDK Solar. The estimated $80 million in debt relief shows that the anemia stemming from the oversupply of solar panels on the global market is hurting Chinese manufacturers, too, and is sure to stir up a bit of vitriol alongside the US Department of Commerce’s ongoing case before the WTO, which argues that the Chinese government and solar industry have engaged in unfair trade practices.


Venture investment continued to plug along steadily. There were a couple of interesting Series A deals during the week, as 7AC Technologies and BioSurplus raised their first rounds for efficient HVAC and a platform enabling laboratory equipment reuse, respectively.


Meanwhile, Harvest Power expanded its Series C round by an additional $15 million with participation from three new investors. Piper Jaffray & Co led the round, and was joined by Industry Ventures and Tur Partners. Harvest, a specialist in organic waste-to-energy technology, had raised the initial $112 million of its Series C back in April.


In the world of wind power, DONG Energy and …

Where are they now? Corporate Activity in the Global Cleantech 100 Companies

Sara Strope

In our 2011 Global Cleantech 100 report, we reported on the corporations with the most engagements (partnerships or investments) with Global Cleantech 100 companies on the 2011 list.    It’s clear that there is a mutually beneficial relationship between corporation and startups: Corporations need start-ups to source innovation; start-ups need corporations to scale innovation.   Quarter by quarter, year by year and from one event to the next, we see these relationships unfold through direct investments, research and development partnerships, and even mergers & acquisitions.  The question now is which corporations are leading the way?  Have more Global 100 companies benefited from corporate investments and partnerships?

In 2011, the top five most active corporations engaged with 50 of the Global Cleantech 100 companies. GE led the way with 22 investments.  Siemens, Google, IBM and PG&E rounded out the top five.

The top 20 corporations from our 2011 Global Cleantech 100 Report

2011 Corporate Chart

2011 marked a record year for Cleantech mergers & acquisitions with $41.6 billion involved across 395 transactions, an increase of 155% from 2010.  However, we’ve seen the M&A trend slow down a little in 2012 (especially with venture-backed  European Cleantech companies).  In the 2Q 2012 Cleantech Investment Monitor Briefing, we …

The Week in Cleantech – July 9-15


July 8-15 proved an especially exciting week for cleantech transportation technologies, with investments and acquisitions in biofuels, electric vehicles, efficient engines and car sharing companies.


Leading the pack last week was Elevance Renewable Sciences with a $104 million Series E round led by new investor Genting Genomics Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Genting Berhad. Elevance’s olefin metathesis technology can be applied to the production of biofuels, but, like many other biotech companies waiting for the economics to work out, Elevance currently focuses the bulk of its production capacity on high-performance waxes, functional oils, anti-microbials, lubricants, additives and other chemicals. Genting Berhad was joined by existing investor Total Energy Ventures in the round.


Protean Electric raised $84 million in a Series B round from GSR Ventures, New Times Group, and Oak Investment Partners. Protean is a developer of an in-wheel electric drive motor for hybrid and electric vehicles.


Zipcar continued to expand its footprint in the European car-sharing market with its acquisition of Denzel Mobility CarSharing, also known as, last week. The Austrian car-sharing firm has 10,000 members and 200 cars in its fleet and gives Zipcar a presence in Vienna, …

Digital Solutions to Building Efficiency: Exploring a Cleantech VC Bright Spot

kerry cebul

The preliminary release of our 2Q12 numbers confirmed what many have been talking about for months…significantly lower global cleantech VC investment by both deal count and dollar amount.

Yet, the Energy Efficiency sector remains a bright spot amidst the gloomy discussions of shakeouts and a transition away from the term “cleantech.” And, as both VCs and corporate strategics reassess the broader cleantech landscape and refine their approaches, there is renewed interest in understanding the potential of this continuing bright spot. As Rob Day of Black Coral Capital put it in this great review of the numbers yesterday, “even while the overall cleantech sector is in a down period, it’s clearly still an exciting time to be investing in energy efficiency and related plays.”

Within energy efficiency, digital solutions to building efficiency continues to be a particular area of investor and entrepreneur interest. From enterprise energy management and lighting control systems, to remote auditing and benchmarking, entrepreneurs and investors are developing scalable digital solutions to tackle the building efficiency market. Some of the industry’s hottest companies like Redwood Systems, Gridium, Adura Technologies, Vigilent and essess have raised recent rounds from some of the industry’s top investors including Draper …

Second quarter numbers in: venture investment cools off in 2Q 2012

Whitney Michael

Today we released preliminary 2Q 2012 results from the i3 research platform showing worldwide clean technology venture investment in the quarter totaled $1.61 billion.

Measured by dollars invested, cleantech venture investment fell 14 percent compared to the previous quarter ($1.88 billion) and was off 25 percent from 2Q11 ($2.15 billion).  Of this quarter’s deals, 59 percent (92) were Series B or later rounds, accounting for 90 percent ($1.59 billion) of all money invested during the quarter.

“Despite headwinds facing the sector and global economic instability, we continue to observe top tier funds such as Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, NEA, and others actively investing into cleantech,” said Cleantech Group CEO Sheeraz Haji. “While some may be ducking ‘cleantech’ as a label in North America, growth in technologies addressing resource and energy challenges remains strong and both corporate and investor interest remains high.”

The leading sector in the quarter by amount invested was solar ($253 million), followed by transportation ($252 million) and energy efficiency ($243 million). Energy efficiency and solar were the most popular sector measured by number of deals, with 35 and 22 funding rounds respectively. Water, 17 deals totaling $135 million, and biofuels, 14 deals totaling $229 million, also …

Is climate change in the hands of the middle-class people?


Salutations de Lille, France! I was invited to speak at the EnviroNord congress in the inaugural conference: How eco-technologies contribute to reduce the social-economic impacts of climate change? Opening speakers were Mr Jean Jouzel a nobel-price winner from his work on the global warming and Mr Jean-Christoph Victor from the LEPAC (the Centre for Political Studies and Cartographic Analysis. There was also an event for interclusteral cooperation and I was asked as the representative of Global Cleantech Cluster Association to speak about the challenges and opportunities we see in building the cleantech ecosystem.

I was enjoying the speeches of Mr Jouzuel and Mr Victor as a true believer does but it was not hard to see that the message was aimed at the high level politicians – both French and EU-level sitting in the audience. And the message was: the changes which need to be done to sustain the global warming below two degrees, they are not the task of the next generation. We need to make changes happen now, or it will be too late.

Especially interesting were the facts Mr Victor showed regarding the changes in focus points of geopolitical power and demographics of the globe, how they …

The Week in Cleantech – June 25 – July 1


The second quarter wrapped up with a flurry of investment activity last week.

Rumors surrounding smart metering company Elster Group (links require subscription) proved true, as the company has reportedly agreed to be acquired by British private equity firm Melrose for $2.3 billion. The deal has sparked anticipation of further M&A activity involving other smart metering majors.

In venture investing, smart window company Soladigm claimed the top spot last week, raking in $55 million in Series D equity to support commercialization of its energy-efficient glass product. New investor Reinet Investments joined Soladigm’s existing shareholders in the financing.

In an interesting partnership concerning electric vehicle proliferation in China, charging infrastructure company ECOtality last week announced a joint venture with Changchun Eco-Power Technology to build out charging stations in the country. China is widely expected to someday be the largest single market for electric vehicles, but highlighting the fact that few Chinese own their own automobile today or are likely to be in the market anytime soon was an announcement by the companies that the JV will initially focus on airport tarmac fleets.

Solar thin film PV company Abound Solar last week announced that it would file for bankruptcy, making it the …