cleantech insights

Cleantech Venture Activity Hanging Around in 3Q12

Hans Chen

We have just released the preliminary data on global venture activity within the cleantech space during 3Q 2012. Worldwide clean technology venture investment in the quarter totaled $1.56 billion. Measured by dollars invested, cleantech venture investment dropped only slightly compared to the previous quarter ($1.60 billion), but was off 30 percent from 3Q11 ($2.23 billion). The number of deals recorded in 3Q12 was 148, compared to 169 in 2Q12. You can find the full press release here. i3 subscribers can find the webinar slides and recording here.

The number may not look overly impressive, but taken into consideration that we are still under the influence of “headwinds” in cleantech (mentioned in the release last quarter) and approaching the epicenter of a presidential election, I believe that most of us would say these are solid numbers. Venture investors have proved skeptics wrong once again in 3Q 2012 that innovation in cleantech was (and probably never will be) not overlooked. Though there were “only” 148 venture deals in cleantech during the quarter, the total dollar amount roughly stayed put at $1.56 billion, with 91% of the deals having a disclosed dollar amount (compared to 75-80% average during the past few quarters). The numbers not only proved that the investors were still looking for deals in cleantech, but also suggested that the investors are betting on more capital-efficient deals within the space.

It is true that there were several not-so-bright news during the quarter. It seems like collapses of solar companies, IPO withdrawals and emergency bail-out deals have haunted us for most of the year. But in 3Q 2012, we saw IPO withdrawals turned into huge private financing rounds (Elevance, Genomatica) and cross-continent business opportunities created by emergency deals (A123, Q-Cells). Some of us might have smelled crisis, but I’d like to use this cliche to sum up 3Q 2012 in cleantech:

The translation of “crisis” in Chinese is a two-character phrase “危机” (pronounced wéi jī). “危” literally means “danger”, and “机” literally means “opportunity”. While some may worry about the danger part, I’d rather put my sight in the opportunity part.

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