Jennifer Kho this week asks what I can only assume is a rhetorical question on Green Inc. Blog at NYT, “Is Washington the New Wall Street for Cleantech?”
There is ample evidence that angels and VCs are now second fiddle to the American taxpayer when it comes to cleantech capital for the next generation of innovation and investment.
To me, a more debatable and salient question is: Given that VCs and angels are looking for ROI – usually explosive ROI from the “killer app” – they have a certain set of criteria that they use to evaluate who and what gets funded; the government on the other hand has no such interest. Their interest is not in seeing a technology achieve commercial success, it is in policy advancement, political gain, maybe even – gasp! – some patronage.
Does that shift in the key investors’ priorities mean that we will see money spread around on a bunch of pie-in-the-sky projects or hopeless technologies instead of being thrown behind the most competitive, and innovative ideas?
In my mind there is no debate. We may get to the same or similar endgames no matter who is funding the technology development, but with the government doing it, it will cost A LOT more to get us there in the aggregate.