During the first day of our tour of Finland’s clean tech companies, we got to meet with Kari Herlevi a Senior Business Advisor recently back in Finland after a tour in Silicon Valley with Tekes, the entity charged with executing the Finish government’s seed investment strategy in technology and innovation. Investing through grants and soft loans, Tekes offers Finnish entrepreneurs a source of capital that a dormant VC and Angel Investing industry fails to provide. Almost invariably, over the course of the ensuing three days Tekes was mentioned as a source of funding for the companies we visited.
Amidst the global recession and discussions surrounding the capital intense nature of most clean tech companies and the question of viable exit strategies for the venture capitalists that invest in them, the IPO market will continue to be dry.
The broader IPO market has been relatively dry since the start of 2008, with relatively few listings compared to previous years (~25/year vs averages from 1980s to 2005 of around 400/year).
While Sarbanes-Oxley is partially to blame for the dearth of US based IPO’s the fact is the public’s faith in and funds for the markets have been squeezed, and I feel that it might be more than wishful thinking that 2010 will be a robust year for Wall Street based IPOs of any sort, particularly clean tech investments.
This seems to be the Finnish response to RMI’s Amory Lovins’ “Hot Showers and Cold Beer.” I arrived in Helsinki about 10 hours ago, though thanks to an airport worker’s strike and a spirited bout of jet lag, I’m only now getting to walk around the city. I have yet to get my vitamin D for the day, the weather was foggy and rainy when we arrived, and the sun set predictably early at around 4PM, which meant that my three hour nap killed any possible exposure, and I won’t lie, I feel it.
From my research in preparation for this trip, Finland has made some impressive commitments to both the environment and stimulating clean tech initiatives. What it doesn’t have in sun resources for much of the year, it makes up for in tremendous water, biomass and commitment to pursuing technological solutions. Thanks to the Finnish government’s interest in promoting the country’s clean energy leadership – and me winning a spirited game of rochambeau (rock-paper-scissors) with my colleagues for the chance to accept their invitation – I will spend the next three days visiting Finnish clean tech companies and organizations.
Earlier in the week, Jonathan Axelrad, Co-Chair of this past weekend’s Jewish Response to the Energy Challenge (J-REC) conference held in San Francisco and broadcasted through out the United States and Israel, was asked if a “Jewish response to energy” wasn’t as superfluous as the Korean response to hurricanes.
As one of the few, if not only, gentiles I began the morning a bit skeptical, though after a day of thought provoking lectures and panels, I feel it was not another superfluous conference, and the concept of a concerted Jewish response could indeed be the seed of a terrifically successful piece of the large puzzle that will be the energy (and consumption) solution of the future. The core ideas behind why I agreed with the many bright panelists and moderators for why there should be a particularly Jewish response is because of the interdisciplinary and international nature of the energy challenge, the acute water and related energy challenge within Israel, and the Jewish concept of tikkun olam (loosely translated from Hebrew: the pursuit of things that avoid social chaos).
I don’t have a TV, and while I’m generally pretty happy with the state of affairs, I definitely miss the Daily Show… thanks to Hulu, I now don’t have to.
If you missed Jon Stewart’s take on the progress of Waxman-Markey here is a recommended Friday afternoon break. Stick through and you’ll get to catch up with Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who doesn’t do a bad job spinning a joke for Nobel Laureate.
I’m glad that they are so proud of themselves for unanimously agreeing to do nothing! Leaders of the G8 leading industrial countries have agreed to try to limit global warming to just 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels by 2050.
Pretty farcical on so many levels, but on a personal, empathetic, level I’m happy for poor (rich?!) Mr Berlusconi who got a chance to shed some of the stress he’s been feeling at home with a photo op and stroll with our vaunted supreme leader and the other, merely mortal, leaders of the developed world.*
As a recruiter, I’ve had countless conversations with excited, motivated and very eager people that are looking to break into Clean-Tech. Like many, they are looking to do something more meaningful at work and something that transcends and has a deep impact. Another group of job seekers, and they are not necessarily mutually exclusive, are those eying the Clean-Tech space as a potential island in a very tumultuous economic sea.
Unfortunately, it is hard to assess just how much value you can provide to a sector that you know very little about. I will put forth that for a cash constrained company, it is difficult to project how success in an unrelated industry might translate to success in the industry they operate in.
The week before last was the culmination of a labor of love for Sunil Paul and Claire Tomkins with the launch of the Gigaton Throwdown in DC after 18 months of hard work, researching and – as I witnessed first hand – coralling the efforts of other researchers.
What is the Gigaton Throwdown?
The Gigaton Throwdown Study was launched as a Clinton Global Initiative in 2007. It was started as a project to educate and inspire entrepreneurs, investors, and policy makers to think big about solving the climate crisis. It was an effort to answer Sunil’s question, “What does it take to make a difference with clean energy technology?”
NASA climate scientist James Hansen and 30 other demonstrators were arrested in West Virginia while protesting the practice of mountaintop-removal coal mining, which Hansen says President Obama must ban as the U.S. weans itself off fossil fuels. Hansen; actress Darryl Hannah; Michael Brune, executive director of the Rainforest Action Network; and Ken Hechler, a 94-year-old former congressman, were among those arrested as they blocked traffic on a highway in front of a Massey Energy coal plant in Sundial, West Virginia.
Please join The New Leaders Council, with hosts Phil Angelides, Chairman of the Apollo Alliance and Fiona Ma, California State Assemblywoman, in honoring four San Franciscans influencing progressive energy policy from the public and private sector this coming Monday at 6:30 PM at 111 Minna St in San Francisco.
CleanTechies is proud to support the New Leaders Council as it promotes these local energy leaders that are making a difference in their communities:
While Americans hang out with their families today (Memorial Day), it might make sense for them to think a bit about the men and women that have perished while serving their country… it is because of them that we are taking the day off to eat hamburgers, drink beer, and prepare for summer.
While I live in San Francisco, I’m not the typical sappy hippie environmentalist denizen envisioned by some; but I do feel strongly about clean energy. I know that it is an investment that is worth the return for this country, even if that return is only measured by fewer armed conflicts and fewer mourning mothers.
A wave of Green Technology innovation is sweeping the world – is the United States willing, and ready, to lead?
That was the question that Andrea Larson presented to the audience a couple hours ago at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. I was a bit disappointed in most of her comments – beginning with the fact that she chose dwell on “the ignorance” of those that don’t believe in Global Warming… please!
There is nothing less important about this issue than fighting to convince those that don’t believe in it (Peyton speaks about the argument well – I welcome you to join that ongoing discussion).
I spent the last couple days learning about how countries in Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean might best to stimulate the implementation of renewables at the first annual REEM Conference. The conference was largely an attempt to identify and some lessons learned and best practices from the EU, and even the US, which could help shape policy in these regions.
I would contend that knowledge sharing is always constructive. Yet, as some of the entrepreneurs on the panel explained their decidedly unique and varied frustrations and successes surrounding each of their projects, I could not help but feel that the concept of pontificating on would be effective policies for a developing countries from a well lit and air conditioned downtown San Francisco hotel ball room was a bit cheeky, if not resoundingly inadvisable.
Last night I had the dubious distinction of being the guy sitting next to former director of the CIA, Ambassador, and Undersecretary of the Navy (a post he held before I was born), and current Senior Vice President of Booz Allen Hamilton and partner at Vantage Point Venture Partners, R. James Woolsey.
He has a fairly clear message that he is happy to share with anyone that will listen:
The United States is at grave risk to both “malignant” and “malevolent” disruptions to the grid and that threat can be addressed through distributed renewable generation which can simultaneously reduce the importance of oil to the ignominious fall from grace of salt.
I have had the pleasure of hearing him speak and spending some time with him before moderating last night’s event, and despite how highly I thought of him before, he did not disappoint. His is a decidedly aggressive approach to the US’ energy future, and like the well trained litigator he is, he presents his case very well. Electric vehicles and distributed renewables are the hallmarks of an utopian (utopic?) energy future, that would leave OPEC states reeling with the need to find, as he puts it, honest work, and reducing the disposable cash reserves some currently use to fund terrorist activities.