Cleantech Venture Investing is Larger Than Telecom

This isn’t entirely surprising if you have been playing attention, but many will find it remarkable:

Cleantech Venture Network have energy leapfrogging medical technology and telecommunications investments to become the third largest investment segment within venture investing, behind only software and biotechnology investments, according to the research firm.

Did you get that? Cleantech investing (admittedly somewhat soft definitionally) has come from nowhere four years ago to be a larger venture investment category than either telecom or medical devices. Amazing.


  1. Terry Foecke says:

    The definition of “cleantech” is indeed fuzzy, as is the definition of “tech” or “high tech”. But the cleantech fuzziness inflates the investment tally because 1)cleantech embraces everything from centuries-old distillation technology (ethanol plants) to brand-new nanoscale coatings that clean themselves, and 2)”clean” is actually often not clean-est but clean-er (e.g., capturing pollutants after coal combustion). This allows all kinds of good-to-do but not so innovative things like using less electricity and wastewater treatment to get swept into the total. Far more interesting, and useful for thinking about cleantech as a possible theme, are the underlying enablers like laser photonics, composite materials, industrial biotech, and other possibly disruptive technologies.

  2. Agreed, Terry. Most of the more interesting things I’m seeing are down at those levels, which is much, much smaller as an investment category. At the higher levels a lot of what’s going is redefinitions: I’ve seen a semiconductor fab tools company with called cleantech.

  3. Terry Foecke says:

    Sure, we’ve done that in putting together “green” portfolios. We call those “beneficiaries”, companies that benefit from the cleantech theme by virtue of the bystander effect. They make something that makes the world cleaner, but often don’t market it that way. But sometimes you find a cleantech “beneficiary” that is intriguing as a possible investment because before any peers catch wind they have sussed out a market need. In semi fab tools, that might be more precise dosing and control of increasingly expensive chemicals, and it does have a ricochet effect of lower volumes of toxic waste. But maybe not exactly the high end of the cleantech theme. Sure helps diversification, however.