cleantech insights

Reigniting Cleantech: Top 5 Reasons for a Post Bubble Party

Greg Neichin

(if you don’t make it to the end of this article and just want to know where the party is, it’s March 18th-20th in San Francisco, you can register here)

It is quite fashionable these days, especially amongst those in and around Silicon Valley, to talk about the demise of cleantech.  This discussion has always seemed silly to me.

There are only two groups fascinated by this dialogue: (a) US investors who were burned in deals that they likely should not have touched in the first place and (b) industry pundits & consultants with too much time on their hands.  Both of these groups are frustrated and vocal, so they create substantial noise, but far less signal.

As Khosla Venture’s Andrew Chung recently said, in a thoughtful piece by Katie Fehrenbacher covering the “cleantech is dead” meme, “venture is a highly cyclical business”.  You could say that again.  Andrew continued, “we expect sustainability investments to experience a renaissance as today’s breakthrough companies successfully commercialize and have massive impact on society’s infrastructure.”

Call it sustainability investments, energy tech, resource tech, cleantech, or greentech.  Call it whatever else you want to call it, just don’t call it


The S-Curve Indicator: Week of February 25, 2013

Jill Bunting

This week’s indicator is 90 by 50, which refers to the Urban Green Council’s plan for reducing New York City’s emissions 90 percent by 2050. The Council argues that currently practiced techniques—like sealing leaks and triple glazing windows— can enable New York to achieve this goal without the need for technological breakthroughs. This approach of honing in on one sector has implications for cities, as well as companies, in terms of setting sustainability priorities.

Seventy-five percent of New York’s carbon emissions come from buildings and their associated energy use. Because of this, the city can address its overall footprint through a relatively narrow focus. This clustering of emissions is not atypical in corporate footprints either. In a 2009 analysis, Coca-Cola found that over half of the carbon emissions of its beverages come from packaging. According to our i3 platform, Coca-Cola has since forged multi-million dollar investments and relationships in recycling and bioplastic companies. Taking a lifecycle approach enables firms to go deep in one area, rather than broad across several, often with better results for their environmental and financial performance.


This is an entry in our series, The S-Curve Indicator, where we highlight a number that’s

The Week in Cleantech – Feb. 18 – 24


LightSail Energy led headlines last week, raising an additional $5.5 million in the second closing of its $37.3 million Series D round. New investor Total, the French energy giant, joined existing investors Khosla Ventures, Innovacorp, Peter Thiel, and Bill Gates in the round. LightSail is a developer of compressed-air energy storage, or CAES, technology.

Elsewhere in Cleantech, recently IPO-ed downstream solar company SolarCity launched a new $65 million fund in partnership with Honda to finance rooftop solar installations for Honda and Acura drivers in SolarCity’s coverage area. Back in 2011, Ford and SunPower combined for a similar project fund.

In investor news, Silicon Valley venture capital firm Battery Ventures announced the close of two new funds, totaling $900 million. The firm indicated that its key investment focus in the coming years will be in SaaS/software for business users. Battery made nine Cleantech investments in 2012.

To dynamically track the activity of Cleantech companies and investors, consider subscribing to our i3 Platform today.

Finally, Cleantech Group Forum San Francisco is coming up soon (March 18-20), followed less than a month later by Cleantech Forum Europe in Bilbao (April 16-18). We would love to see you at one or …

The S-Curve Indicator: Week of February 18, 2013

Jill Bunting

This week’s indicator is 37 percent, which is the percentage of companies reporting profits from sustainability, according to a study published in the MIT Sloan Management Review. This represents a 23% increase over last year.

The ROI of sustainability initiatives is often challenging to quantify, but the rapid rise in companies reporting that sustainability is adding to the bottom line is encouraging. The case studies highlighted in this article illustrate that the way businesses are thinking about “sustainability” has evolved. In addition to driving out waste, new communication efforts, and increasing stakeholder engagement, companies are using the lens of sustainability to encompass a range of product, service, and value chain innovations. Nestle, for example, turned a manufacturer byproduct – coffee grounds – into a source of energy. Dell worked with its suppliers to create packaging from bamboo, a renewable resource that also created a stronger, more durable product for customers. In our work, we’ve increasingly seen business units, not just sustainability groups, looking to new clean technologies and business models to source innovation and drive top-line growth. The study found companies that changed elements of their business model were much more likely to report that sustainability adds profit …

Cleantech Goes Social: Two weeks to go!

Stefanie Krieger

It’s been an exciting three weeks since we announced the “Cleantech Goes Social” contest, in partnership with Facebook. So far, we’ve received over 100 entries, with more rolling in every day. Our diverse pool of applicants ranges from students to large corporations and, to date, represents over 25 different countries. Another exciting development is our partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which, as a technical supporter of the contest, is encouraging the use of open data to help people reduce their environmental impact.

Looking for inspiration or don’t know where to start? Head over to the new Resources section on the Contest website, which offers useful sources for entrants, including Facebook application tutorials, case studies of successful Facebook integrations, and open energy-related data provided by the DOE.

We’ve got two more weeks to go! Do you have an idea on how Facebook can be used to encourage individuals to reduce their environmental impact and increase the adoption of clean technologies? Enter the contest here and email your completed pitch deck to by March 4th to be considered for a chance to win $25,000, personalized guidance from Cleantech Group and Facebook, and the opportunity to present your …

The Week in Cleantech – Feb. 11 – 17


Back from our Presidents’ Day holiday here in the U.S., we have a chance to reflect once again on last week’s activity in cleantech company financings, partnerships, acquisitions and more. It was an exciting week, with news of several new venture financing rounds in different cleantech sectors. Two that stood out were driver-behavior analytics company DriveCam‘s new strategic investment from Volvo, and UV water purification company Atlantium‘s new $9 million growth equity round from Aster Capital, Aeris Capital, and existing investor Mr. Benjamin Kahn.

In M&A, nodal demand response (DR) developer Consert was acquired by Toshiba, bolstering that engineering and electronics giant’s position in the smart grid. Terms were not disclosed.

There were also several announcements regarding new venture funds, most notably Lux Capital‘s closing of its third fund, Lux Ventures III, at an oversubscribed $245 million. The fund will continue the firm’s multi-sector focus in energy, technology, and healthcare.

If you haven’t already, check out our i3 Platform to dynamically track deals like these every day. And last but certainly not least, Cleantech Group Forum San Francisco is coming up soon (March 18-20), followed less than a month later by Cleantech Forum

The S-Curve Indicator: Week of February 11, 2013

Jill Bunting

This week’s indicator is $700 billion, which is the annual potential savings in global consumer goods from material reduction and reuse. The study by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation points to tactics such as textile collection, reusable packaging, and food waste recovery as ways to capture this value.

The numbers are compelling but, given historical inertia, is it really possible for companies to make the shift towards a so-called “circular economy?” The study’s authors argue that not only is it possible, it is critical that companies evolve their thinking. A convergence of factors, from new business models such as collaborative consumption to the growth of IT capabilities such as RFID chips, are making the previous approaches to efficient manufacturing obsolete. Companies that incorporate systems-level thinking into their value chain will be positioned to capture the long-term value critical for growth.

This is an entry in our series, The S-Curve Indicator, where we highlight a number that’s impacting the world of sustainability. Click here for more information about the S-Curve and our approach to environmental innovation.  
This post was originally published on GreenOrder’s blog.

The Week in Cleantech – Feb. 4 – 10


Last week saw a flurry of activity in the Cleantech sector, with several exciting venture and M&A deals, as well as news regarding new venture funds.

VC deals included big raises in sectors like Transportation (Parkmobile and Hailo), Clean Air (Leosphere and BURN Manufacturing) and Recycling & Waste (Green Waste Solutions and ecoATM), among others.

M&A activity during the week showcased some healthy industry consolidation and strategic thinking on the part of several corporates. One such deal saw Israeli agricultural and energy biotech developer Rosetta Green gobbled up by agribusiness major Monsanto. Just last week we noted Monsanto’s recent high level of activity in clean agriculture tech – most recently its growth equity investment in Synthetic Genomics at the end of January.

Fund news during the week was mixed, as mentions of new cleantech funds raised by Chrysalix SET and Ambienta were offset by VantagePoint‘s concession that it would cease raising its latest $1.25 Billion all-cleantech fund due to lack of interest from LPs. It is the latest data point in the current trend away from cleantech-only funds, as scarce exits have stymied investor and limited partner interest in the sector. Subscribers …

The Week in Cleantech – Jan. 28 – Feb. 3


Here are a few nuggets from last week, tracked on Cleantech Group’s i3 Platform:

Smart thermostat company Nest led headlines last week with an $80 million Series B equity raise from Generation Investment Management, Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and others. The round, reportedly done at a post-money valuation of $800 million, continues strong investor interest in the “smart home” area of building energy efficiency.

Monsanto, a favorite punching bag of sustainable agriculture advocates but one of the most active corporate investors in clean agriculture tech, acquired the core assets of Agradis. Agradis, a spinout from Synthetic Genomics also backed by DFJ and Plenus, uses genomics to develop non-food biofuel feedstock crops.

And a new grid-focused cleantech venture fund was launched by the Illinois state government, via the Illinois Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA). The fund, Energy Foundry, is backed by Illinois utilities Ameren and ComEd and will be managed as a non-profit ever-green fund, meaning positive investment returns will be reinvested in the fund.

Finally, Cleantech Group Forum San Francisco is coming up soon (March 18-20), followed less than a month later by Cleantech Forum Europe in Bilbao (April 16-18). …