356 investments in CleanTech occurred in 2009, a new high. However the dollar amount is down to $4.85B from $7.6B in 2008 over 350 deals comparatively, according to a new report from GreenTech Media. The downward trend over more deals may reflect the global capital markets as much as it does the CleanTech sector itself. Or, the optimist could point out that overall investment was nearly $5 billion in spite of the global economic crisis!
According to several VC firms spoken to on a recent trip to Silicon Valley by the staff of this blog, investors are seeking less capital intensive opportunities while seeing an influx of opportunities. Partnering with firms that have smaller capital needs, VCs may play a more significant role in their management and development, while lessening the potential for large, future capital re-investments. This trend may in part be a result of the challenge to raise capital most funds are facing as well as their preference to maintain control.
The solar sector is generally viewed as capital intensive, but despite this was the largest sector accounted for in 2009 investments with 84 deals over $1.4B. Biofuels was second, and energy storage, smart grid and automotive rounded up the top CleanTech sectors. Water now is on the radar with $130MM over 33 deals.
Things to look for in 2010:
1) Codexis IPO? Tesla Motors IPO? Solyndra IPO? (all 3 have reportedly filed)
2) Will oil price fluctuations help CleanTech?
3) Will a recovery of the capital markets occur to help encourage the flow of seed money?
4) Introduction of more electrified automobiles effect on energy storage and transportation (many new models expected this year)
5) And much more! (water, smart grid, government mandates, materials and infrastructure)