Cleantech Software Opportunity

by mike on December 21, 2008

Cleantech has been one of the few bright spots in terms of venture capital investment in 2008. According to The Cleantech Group, a market research and financial services firm, Q3 brought a record-level of $2.6B invested across 158 companies located in North America, Europe, China and India. That’s a 37% increase over the same period last year, and a 17% increase over Q2.

While the category is growing, cleantech investment has been dominated by capital-intensive projects like clean power generation and biofuels. With the economic downturn in full effect and funding being harder to come by, there is a significant opportunity for companies at the intersection of software and cleantech. Software is attractive due to its capital efficiency and scalability. Here are a few categories and companies that I have run across:

datacenter Energy Management – Customers can save hard dollars by adopting solutions that help better manage and monitor energy consumption. Energy efficiency in data centers, PC power management, efficient HVAC systems, lighting management, smart homes, demand response and facilities management are all key areas primed for growth. Companies in this segment include Verdiem, 1E, BigFix, EnergyHub, Adura, Positive Energy and Faronics.
co2 Carbon Management – Measuring, managing and analyzing CO2 emissions are increasingly garnering customer attention and budgets. Compliance is at the forefront of spurring demand, but not far behind are reputation risk, reduced costs through automation and climate change leadership. This segment is getting crowded fast with north of 20 companies, including Clear Standards, Planet Metrics, Carbonetworks, Carbonops, Supply Chain Consulting, Enviance and Greenstone Carbon Management.

Trading – The carbon trading opportunity is pegged as the world’s largest potential market. Early this year, New Carbon Finance, a market research firm, predicted that the *US* carbon trading market could be worth $1 trillion by 2020. The market is still in its infancy and riddled with regulatory challenges, but there is significant opportunity across the trading spectrum in everything from risk management to electronic trading to liquidity providers. Companies include CarbonFlow, which is working on a platform to help automate carbon credit creation, broker Cantor Fitzgerald (CantorCO2e ) and Australia-based Tradeslot. We also can’t forget about the US-based exchanges CCX and The Green Exchange. Definitely a segment worth keeping an eye on.

solar Solar – Most solar startups are either hardware or services-centric and include installers and manufacturers. As adoption increases there is an opportunity to help consumers and businesses qualify their properties, analyze financial impact, automate permit processes and monitor usage. Companies include Sungevity and Energy Matters. I came across a blog post on this topic that has a good list of companies. See here for details.
water Water Conservation – The United Nations estimates that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will face periodic and often severe water shortages. Software can help monitor and curb water consumption and better manage irrigation and sprinkler systems. An example is California-based HydroPoint Data Systems who builds smart irrigation systems for consumers and small businesses.
ewaste Waste Management & E-waste Recycling – Even with the economic downturn consumers are still spending dollars on new computers, TVs, cameras, cell phones, DVD players and rapidly throwing out old ones. E-waste is one of the fastest-growing waste categories. Consumers in the US throw out roughly 100M cell phones per year and 130K computers per day. With e-waste piling up, there is an opportunity for software to help consumers and large enterprises be smart about recycling, waste management, health & safety, compliance and asset recovery. Companies include Kashless, Soft-Pak, AllMax, Solution Foundry and CellForCash.

This list is by no means exhaustive. The category itself is nascent and it is yet to be determined if these companies can build sustainable businesses over the long haul. It is an exciting time to be a startup tasked with the added mission of making the planet a better place. Feel free to send over additional categories, suggestions and/or companies that I have missed.

  • Raju Cherukuri

    this is indeed a very good post for somebody looking into clean tech, very nice consolidation and catgorization of information by the authos..kudos MIKE

  • Clinical laboratories want to get a quick return on revenue invested in technology. Laboratories haven't always succeeded in this endeavor since so many technological solutions are faulty or overly complex. This of course might explain why many CLIA laboratories are still utilizing quality systems that are paper or hybrid based. Since paper and hybrid solutions are sorely tedious however, and result in more errors than a laboratory should even think about committing, technology has to be the answer, but the question still remains---what kind of technology? AND, will the solution do what it is supposed to?

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