While Cleantech startups have faced declining investment over the past 5 quarters, there are finally signs that cleantech investment is taking an upturn. With significant overlap between agtech and cleantech, this is great news for many, and ag investment plays a significant role in the changing tides.
In 2013, $6.8 Billion was invested in cleantech, according to Cleantech Group, the provider of the i3 data platform. i3 tracks over $7 billion of VC investment across 22,000 cleantech companies, and the data shows that this year’s investment is 15 percent lower than last year’s, which reached $7.9 Billion.
But that data alone doesn’t tell the whole story. On a quarterly basis, investment rose on a quarterly basis by 14.5 percent.
“Five of the top 20 best performing stocks of the Russell 3,000 in 2013 were cleantech companies,” said Sheeraz Haji, CEO of Cleantech Group in a statement. “Despite challenging IPO and M&A markets, we observed a number of positive 2013 exits including Climate Corporation, Waze, Silver Spring Networks, ecoATM, and Evogene. Our i3 data indicate that investors continue to shift away from capital intensive deals and move towards distributed generation, resource sharing, agriculture, and the digital oilfield theme.”
Of the 1,007 deals recorded, 53 percent of deals were Series B or later rounds. This majority accounted for $5.8 billion (or, 85 percent) of money invested during the quarter. (There are, too, slight increases expected once all investors have submitted deals.)
The Energy Efficiency sector led the investments of 2013, bringing in the $1.3 billion, or 20 percent of 2013’s cleantech investment. Web and smart phone data and app products came in second, at $1.2 billion, and Solar in third at $719 million. Other sectors ranked as follows: Biofuels & Biochemicals at $584 million; Recycling & Waste at $371; Advanced Materials at $299 million; Agriculture at $266 million; and Water at $190 million.
Richard Youngman, creator and project lead on the Global Cleantech 100 program, has argued that cleantech capital is seeing an upward shift in investment. The Global Cleantech 100 program is an annual analysis and report names the 100 Cleantech companies promising significant market impact in the next 5-10 years. In the 2013 Global Cleantech 100 report, Youngman explains his “cautious optimism” for the Cleantech industry.
“At a macro level, 2013 has felt quite similar to 2012,” he wrote. “But the transition has continued, and market conditions and sentiment are gradually evolving at a more micro and nuanced level.”
FEATURE PHOTO: Ingo Ronner, Flickr