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Cleantech is dead, like the Internet was in 2000

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Throughout 2012, I’ve often heard entrepreneurs and investors working on technologies like clean energy, smart grid, electric cars and even biofuels, talk about the future of the term “cleantech.” It’s an umbrella term that describes very disparate sectors and was created to explain an investment class that has become less attractive to investors over the past 18 months. So, will cleantech as a term die, or morph into a new term? Or will it survive and stick as the preferred name to classify companies looking to address a coming era of resource constraints?

That question was at the heart of my discussion with three cleantech investors at the VERGE Conference this week. I had the opportunity of getting to spend an hour chatting with Josh Green, partner with Mohr Davidow, Rodrigo Prudencio, Partner with Nth Power, and Mitch Lowe, partner with digital green accelerator Greenstart.

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Lowe had a great quote at the beginning of our discussion: “Cleantech’s dead in the same way the Internet was dead in 2000.” Essentially, the work done in the late 90’s for the internet laid the foundation for today’s massive internet ecosystem, and for cleantech, Lowe thinks the last 8 years have similarly laid the foundation for the future of cleantech. Limited partners may not have seen terrific returns over the past 8 years, said Lowe, but he thinks we’re now entering an incredibly exciting time for investing in cleantech, and specifically for digital green technologies.

Check out the rest of the video, and hear our in-depth discussion on the future of cleantech innovation, entrepreneurs and investors.

12 Responses to “Cleantech is dead, like the Internet was in 2000”

  1. Thanks for posting the discussion. Will need to watch it when time permits.

    Personal observation is that until we start making nuclear energy with advanced reactor designs, the transformation to sustainable future is not possible. Expecting electron bound energy to move tons of materials and bring prosperity to 9 billion people worldwide is not just a pipedream but borders on criminal, especially when foisted by educated people and informed politicians (Markey). The expansion of unconventional oil and gas sector as well as environmental advocacy (which by its efforts keeps us bound to coal ie. witness Germany) will keep nuclear at bay for a time. But when climate change hits in earnest the switch to nuclear will need to be swift otherwise lets look forward to starving in caves.

  2. Samer Zureikat

    Great panel: measured and far-sighted.

    A lot of great work and big investments have gone in to clean technologies to date. This has impacted the way the energy industry works, at least in terms of planning and investment. This fact may not be obvious to readers of tech blogs.

    Cleantech makes complete sense when innovative ideas are supported by the laws of physics. Investment and policy have already moved in this direction and will continue to do so.

  3. Felix Hoenikker

    Cool a policy expert and an attorney telling us what the future of cleantech will be. The internet was primed by 2000, just demonstrates how out of touch with reality these guys are. Not impressed.