cleantech
cleantech insights

Taxonomy is a Boring Word

Tim Barham

In late August, Cleantech Group announced that it had released an “improved and expanded taxonomy” for the i3 platform. For the casual observer, it could be understandable to respond to this announcement with a gentle yawn. After all, Webster defines taxonomy as “the classification of something”, which would seem to make the announcement akin to alphabetizing a bookshelf rather than making disruptive strides in the cleantech space.

However, in order to fully appreciate the significance and success of the new taxonomy, one must take a gigantic step back and think about the contemporary connotation of cleantech as a whole. The term “cleantech” itself is incredibly vague and means different things to different people. This, in turn, can lead to confusion and oversimplification. While chatting with a friend recently, I actually asked him what cleantech was. His response: “I don’t know, like windmills and reusable tote bags and stuff?” While this may seem like a silly answer, it is somewhat illustrative of the kind of cloudiness that can surround a highly technical and diversified space.

This is really where the taxonomy comes in to play. If i3 is the boat that allows global players to navigate through cloudy waters, …

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What Do We Do?

Tim Barham

Walking around the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, I often receive the standard question: “Where do you work?” This is one of the easiest queries to respond to for anyone, as it illicits a simple, almost robotic, response of “I work for the Cleantech Group”.

However, it is the follow-up question that often proves to be more difficult than one would think.

“What does Cleantech Group do?”

There are certainly catchphrases, buzzwords, and one-line company descriptions that can satisfy this question. Sure, we track investments, M&A, partnerships, and IPOs within what we have dubbed the “clean tech” sector (others prefer to call it “green tech” or “sustainable technology”). Our database, i3, provides an efficient way for investors, cleantech companies, government agencies, corporations, and research institutes to gain invaluable insights into a sector that is, quite simply, difficult to track.

Sure, Cleantech Group also holds the industry’s most exclusive events, along with various innovation roundtables throughout the year with industry leaders. Not only do these events allow for the propagation of fresh ideas and the fostering of creative collaboration, but they also provide for crucial networking opportunities and key introductions.

And finally, we certainly also have incredibly talented industry …