cleantech insights

Video: Company of the Week is Aqwise

Whitney Michael

Analyst Troy Ault explains why we chose Aqwise to be the company of the week:…


Something Has to ‘Give’ in European cleantech M&A

Richard Youngman

This week, one year ago, it was announced that ABB had acquired Epyon, a developer of fast-charging technology for electric vehicles.  Following on from BASF’s acquisition of Inge, Alinda’s acquisition of and  Samsung’s of Liquavista, the M&A wave of venture-backed European cleantech companies we’d all been waiting for seemed to be happening. A year on – we are still waiting. It proved a false dawn, but surely, actually, some kind of a postponed dawn.

We have spent some weeks, with Richard Cave-Bigley as our project lead, analysing the state of the market and discussing this stand-off between potential buyers and sellers with many corporate representatives (in both M&A and venturing teams), venture firms, Limited Partners, and other market agents (such as lawyers, brokers and corporate finance advisors).

Here are some of our key impressions, detailed in a fuller research report we have released to our i3 subscribers today:

Something has to give soon (the title of the report). Many cleantech venture funds, with 2005-2007 vintages are in their divestment periods, with many more following on close behind. Such fund managers are trying to strike a delicate balance. On the one hand, they wish to time exits …

The Quarter That Was: Outsourced Reflection

Greg Neichin

Given the pace at which the business world moves these days, there is often not enough time for thoughtful reflection.  It can be all too easy to get lost in last week’s meetings and next week’s deadlines and to completely miss the forest for the trees.  With the amount of information that we all try to consume on a daily basis, it is easy to mistake a headline for a trend, hyperbole for fact.

Luckily, that’s where we come in.  Consider us your “Outsourced Reflection”.  Every quarter, for the past 7 years, we have published a comprehensive quarterly manifesto – Cleantech Group’s Quarterly Investment Monitor.  Frankly, I think that this exercise is more important than ever.  As we wrote in opening this edition:

2012 has started on a similar note [to the end of 2011] with a rising number of cleantech companies funded despite a continuing public and media fascination with the sector’s high profile failures. In responding to erroneous press accounts of his own death, noted American author Mark Twain once wrote, “the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” The same could be said of cleantech.

If all you read in the last three months was news of …

As Goes LanzaTech, so Goes Cleantech

Greg Neichin

If you are in the cleantech sector and had not previously heard about Lanzatech, you likely have now.  The company raised a big, $55.8M round last week that has been widely applauded and covered.  Students of the company had seen this coming for awhile.  Lanzatech was the highest ranking company in the Asia Pacific region in our Cleantech 100 survey earning it “APAC Company of the Year” at our gala banquet last year.  It was featured as part of GTM’s Trendspotting post on the Top 12 Greentech Startups to Watch in 2012.   We’ve made Lanzatech our featured “Company of the Week” in i3 this week, but it may just turn out to be cleantech’s company of the year (and its only January!).  Here are the top reasons that I think Lanzatech exemplifies a number of key themes happening in cleantech:

1.) Cross-Border Financings – I have previously written about Chinese and Korean investors taking large stakes in Western cleantech companies.  Now we can add the Malaysians to that list.  The round was led by the Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund and included participation from Malaysian state oil company, Petronas.  With the US venture community still experiencing …

Top 5 Cleantech Predictions For 2012: The Expanded International Version

Greg Neichin

It’s that time of the year when pundits and prognosticators begin to opine about what will happen in 2012.   Frankly, I don’t like this game.  In mid-2001, I worked for a technology “futurist” firm and wrote a piece predicting that CD-R/W music players would continue to dominate in the year ahead.  That was a couple months before the ipod came on the market and made me look like a fool.  Not that I mind looking like a fool, but I think I’ve shied away from these declarations ever since.

However, I was inspired this week by Rob Day (@cleantechvc) to throw my hat back into the ring.  Why? Because Rob actually went back and wrote a post critiquing the predictions he made from the previous year.  I found this remarkable precisely because most analysts write these odes with zero accountability.  As an investor, Rob actually has to bet on his predictions, so I enjoyed his self-critique.  I promise to do the same – someone hold me to it!

So without further adieu, here are my top 5, slightly irreverent, predictions for cleantech internationally in the year ahead. Why international? Because I’ve spent most of the last 6 …

Five good reasons to launch a Cleantech magazine

Parker Snyder

When I first asked Polish inventor Robert Dwilinski of Ammono if his new laser crystal could be sold as a cleantech product, he said he had never heard of cleantech. That’s too bad, because his product and others like it may enable the next generation of energy efficient consumer products.

In Poland, and elsewhere in Central Europe, many inventors like Robert aren’t able to discover their products’ cleantech aspects by themselves. It’s cases like these that are prohibiting the sector from unleashing its full potential. That’s why we started a magazine – to help them better understand the context in which cleantech markets develop. The next natural step is then to foster interactions with people, whom they might not otherwise meet, to enable serendipitous developments.

This is what Cleantech Poland is aiming to achieve on a local level through its publications and business community. Here is a picture of our launch event, which we hosted to get people of different stripes talking. Potentially, the man with a water-efficient fire hydrant nozzle can talk to the man with an energy efficient crystal, and both will realize they can sell the product for its environmental, resource saving features. Perhaps a person with an idea or …

Guest Analysis: cleantech in Warsaw calling Palo Alto!

Parker Snyder

My iPhone is pixie dust and magic. My hypothesis was re-affirmed the other day when I was in New York to meet with the portfolio manager of a hedge fund, and I called back home across the ocean to talk to my ten month old son. With the aid of my smart phone (and my wife), I could look into the eyes of the broccoli monster, and tell him – face to face – that I loved him.

But the iPhone could do better. Instead of staring into a tiny 2 inch touch screen, imagine if I could project my toothless bundle of joy onto the wall. Imagine if I could turn my smart phone into a movie projector. Would that app be worth $1.99?

In a few years, your iPhone will be able to do just that: project video on the wall of your home. When it does, you may have a crystalline laser technology to thank – or more specifically – the next generation of semi-conductor crystals derived from gallium nitride. These crystals give off more light at less energy. These crystals will allow your smart phone to project movies. When, finally, human kind has managed to condense a movie theatre …

Cleantech in the Basque Country Means Business!

Stephen Marcus

When thinking about some of the buzzing cleantech clusters around the world, the Basque Country doesn’t often come to mind. However, since visiting the region for Cleantech Group’s bi-annual European Advisory Board Meeting, which this time was hosted in partnership with Innobasque, I have had a rapid about-face, and so should you all.

As I crossed over one of the entrance bridges to Bilbao, the main Basque municipality, one couldn’t help but notice the gigantic curved titanium exterior of the Guggenheim Museum pitted against the new high-rise Iberdrola Towers. Both act as iconic symbols of the region’s transformation from an Industrial town to an innovation hub over the past two decades.

Some of the statistics are astonishing. According to the OECD Review of Regional Innovation in the Basque Country, over 70% of the regions R&D is conducted by SMEs (firms under 250 employees), compared to under 20% for the UK. Further, the number of firms initiating R&D activities increased from 110 in 1998 to 343 in 2007. The region is also home to two Technology Corporations, Tecnalia and IK4 Research Alliance, which have over 3,000 employees with 750 cleantech dedicated researchers

The cities regeneration has also created much …

Shiply – don’t come back empty handed

Stephen Marcus

If you’re like me and spend many a late night perusing eBay in search for the latest gadget that I don’t need but will endeavour to find a use for, you may understand me when I say that often, the only thing standing in between me and that “BUY IT NOW” button is the prospect of high or uncertain shipping costs.

UK-based Shiply obviously felt my pain and came up with the idea of creating an online goods delivery market place where people list items thy need delivered and then receive bids from transport companies to carry out the work. The cleantech twist? The platform allows transporters to monetize journeys that they may be travelling anyway with spare capacity, particularly return journeys after single trip drop offs.

For a detailed profile of Shiply as well as a host of other leading innovating cleantech companies, see Cleantech Group’s new i3 platform (for subscribers only).

The user experience process works as follows. The “deliverees” (as I like to call them) first post up their item to be delivered including the description, weight, dimensions, pick up and drop off locations. If the item is listed on eBay, the information can be automatically ported …

Torqeedo – an electric outboard as good as the sum of uber-efficient parts

Stephen Marcus

While the world is busy piecing together a new generation of electric vehicles, Germany-based Torqeedo spotted a unique opportunity to engage the marine industry in making the same strategic shift.

Since 2005, at which time the market was completely unaddressed, Torqeedo has pioneered the development of electric outboard motors with a real focus on high performance and design. This element of the company really shines through when looking at its product range. Its smallest product, the Ultralight 403, is intended to be used on kayaks for local water cruising or river boating. It weighs 7 kilograms (including battery), can achieve a top speed of 9-10 kilometres per hour, and has a slow speed range of 42 kilometres. An example of a Torqeedo mid-range product would be its Cruise 2.0. It can provide 5-6 horsepower and weighs around 19 kilograms. Torqeedo’s most powerful product, its Twin Cruise 4.0R, provides boaters with the ability to travel faster and further on electric power as well as running larger boats such as pontoons, larger sailboats and catamarans. The product can provide 10 horsepower and weighs approximately 35 kilograms. Torqeedo has demonstrated that the product can give a range of up to 40 kilometres on …