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CleanTech – Investing in a cleaner world

Vinod Khosla                Eckart Wintzen        Jeremy Leggett    Richard Barrington

It was only yesterday I was speaking to David at OpenCoffee Manchester about setting up a business to track "carbon neutrality companies", etc. Look what I found in my inbox this morning:

It has not escaped the notice of many in the venture world that cleantech has become something of a phenomenon. Virtually unknown as a concept three or four years ago, it is now the mot du jour. It is more than just talk though – a lot of venture capital is heading in the direction of cleantech. The average European cleantech deal was worth €400k in 2001-2004, but that rose to nearly €3m in 2005-6.

Cleantech is widely understood to encompass technologies that promote the more efficient use of the earth’s resources in industrial production and consumption. Its origins clearly lie in the heightened consumer, regulatory and industry interest in clean forms of energy generation—specifically the rise in awareness of global warming and of damage to the environment from the burning of fossil fuels. The focus of much current investment is trained on eco-efficient production techniques, renewable energy, green technology, and sustainable business.

These and other investment themes and opportunities will be debated at Essential Cleantech 2007, a major conference taking place later this month in London.

Among the leading lights of cleantech presenting at the conference will be Vinod Khosla, famous for co-founding Sun Microsystems at the age of 27. A former general partner at US venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, Mr Khosla was crowned best VC investor by Forbes as long ago as 2001. Mr Khosla, who now runs Khosla Ventures, is an enthusiastic supporter of ethanol as a solution to the US dependence on overseas gasoline and will talk about the opportunities for this energy source. He will also reveal other areas of value (and hype) within cleantech and expand on “Khosla’s Rules” for investing, which he unveiled last month in a lecture at the Haas School of Business at Berkeley.

Essential Cleantech also includes presentations by Doug Richard, chairman of Library House, who will provide insights into the European clean energy sector. Jeremy Leggett, the founder of Solarcentury, a solar innovation company, will highlight his vision of how increased energy efficiency and renewable energy sources can lead to an ecological soft, rather than hard, landing. Mr Leggett’s first book The Carbon War was described by the Sunday Times as "the best book yet on the politics of global warming". Ken Carter, energy manager at Tesco, will explain how he plans to reduce the retailer’s carbon footprint by 50 per cent by 2020. Many other well-known names in the VC and cleantech world will also present their views at the conference.

Essential Cleantech presents a unique forum to discuss how potential solutions to the problems and threats posed by climate change and diminishing fossil fuel supply can provide significant business opportunities. We hope to meet you there.

Essential Cleantech 2007 takes place at the BFI IMAX Theatre, Waterloo, on April 17, from 8am to 8pm. An early bird discount is available until midnight on Thursday April 4.


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