I was recently in New York City for the 2011 NewNet Envirotech and Clean Energy Investor Summit. The full-day investor conference was an engaging event for investors looking to pinpoint the best investment opportunities across an increasingly growing and varied market of clean, green innovations.
Vertichem was a corporate sponsor of the event, and I was pleased to host and moderate a panel discussion for venture capitalists entitled "Investing in Game-Changing Technologies." Attending the conference was a great opportunity for me to meet with various investors and to hear from them not only what types of clean tech investments their respective firms might be interested in, but also their general sense of the green market as a whole.
I've spoken previously about the recent reduction in government subsidies for many green technologies. More generally, however, there seems to have been a clear shift across the environmental community away from a strong focus on biofuels. With government handouts for green technologies growing increasingly scarce (fueled in part by the recent economic collapse), we've seen this push among the scientific and educational communities to focus on a narrower scope of technologies, which are garnering the majority of available funds for investment and research.
Confirmed by many of my conversations in New York, there is a growing need for private entities -- investors, businesses, private equity groups and the like -- to back technologies that have a stable and realistic possibility for return on investment, and that can hold their own without other forms of external support.
This is where the notion of "game-changing" technologies comes in -- and where many (increasingly selective) investors are looking to put their capital.
In addition to moderating one of the panel discussions, I was interviewed by NewNet about my thoughts on investors' current appetites in the space. One particular theme I kept returning to in our conversation was the importance of what I call "growth capital." A huge problem facing green tech companies right now is the fact that they receive funding to cover either a) their start-up stage, or b) their continued operation once they are generating revenue. But to get from one to the other takes money, too -- and that's where growth capital comes in. I think growth capital is an area that could benefit many companies (as well as their investors) if it's analyzed and considered in the right way.
The NewNet conference was a great learning opportunity. Having spent many years on the corporate side, it's always good to get a fresh perspective and to keep the proverbial ear-to-the-ground on the murmurings of the investment community at large. I look forward to representing Vertichem at more of these types of events in the future.