30 May 2007

Why Does California Lead In Cleantech?

The Entrepreneurial Culture Meets Environmental Awareness

A recent article in The Economist noted that North America is the leader in venture investment in clean technology, and Silicon Valley is the leading region within North America. Last year VCs poured $2.9 billion into cleantech investments in North America (the figures came from Cleantech Network), four times more than in Europe. And of that $2.9 billion, about a quarter was connected to Northern California. Massachusetts came second with about 9%, Texas got 7%, and the rest of North America the other 62%.

Why does California lead?

  1. It's a big state, with a lot of energy-hungry people and a lot of natural resources. There are counties in California that are bigger than Massachusetts. On the other hand, Texas is big too, and cleantech investing is just getting started there.

  2. It's where the money is. Billions earned in electronics and dot-coms are being invested in cleantech.

  3. Top-notch university research and government labs, including Stanford, Berkeley, Davis, Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, and others, generate technologies that entrepreneurs can use. And the region's business schools turn out entrepreneurial-minded graduates.

  4. Lots of experienced venture capitalists are headquartered there.

  5. Wide support for environmental concerns across political parties and social segments enables leadership in stricter environmental regulation. (California's CO2 emissions have been level in recent years, while population has grown.)

  6. It has The California Clean Tech Open -- a world-class business plan competition that gives budding entrepreneurs and clean technology businesses a chance at $600,000 in prizes and priceless recognition and encouragement.

The California Clean Tech Open represents the efforts of hundreds of volunteer organizers, backed by the financial support of private industry, non-profits, and government agencies. It's goal is to keep California in the lead in clean technology, to help small companies with good ideas get to the next level, and to save the world.

As an example of the unique capabilities of such an approach, next Monday the California Clean Tech Open and SRI International will put on a Technology and Entrepreneur Matching Event to bring the cutting-edge science of the regions labs and universities together with the creative energies of its potential entrepreneurs. New commercialization ideas and partnerships will result, if we're lucky.

It's working.

GCF Associates is glad to be a part of the CCTO Corps of Volunteers.

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