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Digitizing the Shower Experience: An Interview with SmarTap CEO Asaf Shaltiel

Eric Vermeiren

Israeli company SmarTap has developed a smart shower system that stands to revolutionize personal and commercial water use by monitoring and controlling the temperature and flow of water in a household, hotel, or commercial building. We spoke with Asaf Shaltiel, CEO and founder of SmarTap, about the future of electronic smart shower systems.

What initially gave you the idea to pursue smart shower systems? (Did the idea come to you while you were in the shower?)

My initial idea for SmarTap came to me when I saw my sister with her two small twins at bath time. I saw how she struggled in the bathroom, adjusting the faucet for the right temperature and flow of water, and I thought to myself – we’re in the 21st century, how come we don’t have a system that allows us to fill the bath at exactly the right temperature, amount, and time that we want?

Do you see smart water systems like SmarTap’s as part of the broader trend of automating home devices?

What we’re trying to achieve at SmarTap is to lead a revolution in the rather archaic world of indoor water usage. Currently, faucet companies are surprisingly low-tech, employing roughly the …

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Replenishing California’s Investments in Water Technology

Rosanna Ren

Here in Cleantech Group’s San Francisco office, we are acutely aware of California’s climate problem—that is, the worst drought on record in the state’s history. What’s alarming is that, despite the two drought emergency issuances by Gov. Jerry Brown to reduce water use by 20%, statewide water consumption has in fact increased by at least 1%, up to 8% in some areas.

One might predict greater investments in Water and Wastewater to expedite solutions that address this current and real problem.  The 1Q2014 Water Innovation Monitor reported that water technology investments have stalled, but is it about to be back on the upswing?

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According to Cleantech Group’s i3 platform, looking at California-based companies, eight equity deals have been closed in the water sector since January 17, the first drought emergency declaration. This sums up to a total of $88M invested, or 55% of the total global investments in water ($161M) since then.  Underground Solutions and Liquid Environmental Solutions top that list, receiving a combined $71.6M in growth equity.  This, at least, is optimistic and impressive news.

Examples of some companies doing innovative water technology work in California include WaterHealth, Observant, and WaterSmart Software. These start-ups are all …

Isolated Car to Connected Car: Transportation from the 20th to the 21st Century

Christopher Renna

In the 1950s and 1960s, cars took hold of the United States. Car use and sales, as indicated by registration, boomed from 25.8 million cars in 1945 to 52.1 million cars in 1955 and finally 75.3 million cars in 1965. Indeed, Americans bought cars to drive towards the post-war American dream, roaming free of bounds, each person having his or her own car. Gas prices certainly didn’t hold anyone back…

But if the 20th century car brought freewheeling independence, the car of the 21st century is diametrically opposed: connected to the Internet (connected car and infotainment), to other cars (V2V) and to the environment (V2E); shared transportation, tethering individuals with mobile technology that allow for car sharing, ride sharing and the like.

Indeed, innovation is running wild in the transportation sector and investors are duly taking note. CTG’s i3 data shows the value and importance companies are according to transportation-related innovation.  Equity investments over the first half of 2014 total $2.8 billion across 72 deals, with the Uber deal accounting for $1.2 billion of that. This is almost triple the investment made in the second half of last year, or roughly equivalent to the total investment made …

Internet of Things: Envisioning an Even More Interconnected World

Elizabeth Horvitz

While we’re not exactly living in the times of Marty McFly or George Jetson, our world is quickly becoming smarter and more interconnected, thanks to the rapidly growing Internet of Things sector.  Internet of Things, or IoT, is a concept in which everyday objects—from home appliances to vehicles– are connected to the Internet and can be controlled remotely.  Similar to how we put our computers in “sleep” mode today, we will soon be able to put entire households or even cities in a resting or connected mode, which has enormous environmental implications like reduced energy use and increased efficiency. Some IoT devices have already shown energy cost savings of over $170 per year. Beyond environmental impacts, IOT could be a game changer on how we live and work in a modernized world.

Streetline, a US-based company that has already received over $59 million in capital, provides smart parking solutions through wireless sensors located in parking spots in order to reduce congestion and emissions used while looking for parking spots.  The company’s experts explain that 30% of urban traffic is caused by people looking for parking, and one study even showed that 730 tons of carbon dioxide were …

Where are they now: Global Cleantech 100 Edition

Amanda Faulkner

In this edition of ‘Where are they now?’ we tackle alums of our annual Global Cleantech 100 list. It will be just as much fun as the child stars edition, without the horrible haircuts. Where are the companies that have been featured on past GCT100 lists? Who has made it big with a successful exit? Who had a fire sale acquisition or bankruptcy? Who might be on this year’s list? For a full list of the 2010-2013 lists, check out past reports.

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The Good

Who has exited since being on the 2013 GCT100 list? Three companies, Marrone Bio Innovation and Opower each had an IPO, with Marrone’s happening after it was picked for the list but before the list went public. NovaLED, Nest, and NanoH2O were each acquired, by Samsung, Google, and LG Chem, respectively. Past GCT100 honorees exiting this year include Hara, which was acquired by Verisae, as well as PowerSense, which was acquired by Landis+Gyr. McPhy Energy also debuted on Euronext Paris.

The Bad

Unfortunately, some companies from the 2013 GCT100 list did not have such a great year. Azzurro Semiconductors, a GCT100 2013 company, declared bankruptcy in April …

The Last Frontier of the IT Revolution: A Chat with Ecofective CEO Mats Pettersson

M Paschich

Mats

[UPDATE: Ecofective was ranked 1st in the Energy Efficiency category (and 3rd overall) in the 2014 Nordic Cleantech Open]

One of our sessions during the Cleantech Forum Europe that will be held in Stockholm (May 19-21) is titled The Entrepreneurs Track. Building Innovations Meet Their Target Purchasers: Where the Rubber Truly Hits the Road. In this session, selected building technology companies developing solutions for the buildings industry deliver their “customer pitch” and discuss their products with a group of targeted corporate buyers from the real estate and building industries. Mats Pettersson, CEO of Ecofective, is participating in this session at the Forum. In this related interview, Mats talks about the last frontier of the IT revolution…

What is Ecofective’s genesis story, how did this company come to be?

Ecofective started off as a consultancy with one customer – Wallenstam. Wallenstam is a multi-tenant building owner with around 150 large residential properties here in Sweden. The original project was to develop technology to help these buildings to be more energy efficient, with particular attention on heating systems, since we have long and cold winters here. Ecofective used a thermodynamic optimization research technology, developed for at the Royal Technical Institute in …

Harvesting Innovation: The Changing Face of African Agriculture

Brett Richardson

Africa is in the midst of an agricultural revolution, with innovation driving new avenues for increased crop yields, better resource and capital operating efficiencies, and general farm management knowledge. Africa is home to almost 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable land, or about 60% of  the world’s total. This contrasts the fact that 1/3rd of sub-Saharan Africans are undernourished, with population expected to grow to 1.2 billion people by 2050. The cleantech world is driving the changing scope of African agriculture with an influx of new companies offering innovative solutions which will alleviate stresses to the current system and support farmers.

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Both local and international startups are addressing some of the most basic challenges of agricultural production in Africa. 20%, or 4 billion dollars of grain harvest, is lost every year and 35-50% of fruit and vegetables spoil from crop and storage pests. UK based companies Plant Health Care and Exosect are targeting this inefficiency with pilot projects in Africa using their proprietary crop protection technologies. Plant Health Care provides natural pesticides which leaves no residual impact on the environment and helps to activate certain defensive and growth responses. Exosect also makes bio-control pesticides that can be applied to …

Gnest: $3.2 Billion!

Sheeraz Haji

Woa!!! Monday’s announcement of Google’s acquisition of Nest represents not only a key inflection point for cleantech, but also speaks volumes on the increasing importance of customers. The $3.2 billion deal marks a significant milestone for the home automation company; one that many believed the cleantech market couldn’t produce.

Here at Cleantech Group, we believe that the cleantech market is essential, massive, vibrant, and desired. Based on data tracked in i3 (such as investment round amounts and participating investors), insider-sourced information reported publicly about various investor returns, and standard venture-round ownership stakes, it looks like Google’s acquisition of Nest represents a 24x multiple on paid-in capital. Our i3 business is about collecting the best data possible and helping corporate teams and venture investors connect with innovation: the fact that a member of the highest level of management at Nest owns and contributes content to Nest’s i3 profile has been truly motivating to my team working day and night on the i3 platform.

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So what can we learn from Nest? Our upcoming Cleantech Forum San Francisco 2014 will discuss just that. Last year, Nest keynoted at the Forum (and went on to win North American Company of the Year at …

Oil & Gas Industry’s Embrace of Clean Technology – Catching Up with Jean-Michel Gires of Chrysalix

TroyAult

The majority perception of the term “cleantech” dictates that folks often think my company, Cleantech Group, must be entirely uninterested in working with large traditional players in the oil & gas (O&G) industry. Indeed, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, our data from i3 and my interview with Jean-Michel Gires, former President & CEO of Total E&P Canada and now the newest Venture Partner at Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, reveal that the O&G industry is embracing clean technology more closely than ever before.

O&G Corporates Partnering with Proven Innovators

Cleantech start-ups often have it tough. Those developing technologies that require more capital and time to scale than traditional “tech” startups lead some investors to argue that the sector just doesn’t fit the traditional venture capital model. And, like biomedical start-ups, some cleantech start-ups often face highly-regulated or otherwise-entrenched traditional industries where innovation is slower to take root.

It is with this backdrop that we see large O&G companies as important drivers of cleantech innovation. Large balance sheets allow for impactful investments and we’re seeing more and more O&G majors starting to embrace innovation more directly with dedicated venturing arms and co-investments with industry peers (see chart at …

To Do China Right, Enjoy the Food: 12 Gems For Growing Your Business in China

Josh Seidenfeld

Last Friday, Cleantech Group, Silicon Valley Bank, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati convened an intimate group including investors (Dow Venture Capital, Keytone Ventures, Khosla Ventures, The Westly Group), corporate innovation leaders (ABB, Applied Materials, Siemens), and startups (Efficiency Exchange, Gridium, NexSteppe, Scoot Networks) for a Power Breakfast focused on strategies for working in China. A panel of investors, bankers, attorneys, and startup CEOs with deep experience working in China led the conversation, moderated by Cleantech Group’s CEO, Sheeraz Haji (see a couple interesting slides from Sheeraz’ presentation at the end of the post.)

We promised not to attribute quotes so participants would feel more comfortable speaking their minds, but here are a dozen highlights from the experts:

  1. Enjoy the food. Personal connections drive business in China. One panelist mused, “Once you start enjoying food with people you really start to get to know one another.”
  2. Wear the mandarin hat. One seasoned investor recalled how he was advised to make clear to Chinese counterparts “what’s in it for them.” But, he added, the euphemism “wear the mandarin hat” sounds better. The need to align partnerships