Year-end numbers highlight cleantech VC slowdown
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Cleantech investing is expected to remain lackluster in 2013.
By the time another round of 2012 figures came out this week, the alarms around the dearth of cleantech venture capital had already been sounded.
The annual report released Friday by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the National Venture Capital Association found that venture capital cash overall was down 10 percent in 2012, clocking in at $26.5 billion. Of that the Pacific Northwest saw just over $1 billion invested.
But cleantech's cut of the total was lackluster, according to the report's authors, who found a 28 percent decrease in dollars and a 23 percent decrease in deal volume for the sector in 2012 for a total of $3.3 billion invested.
That said, five of the top 10 largest deals of the year were for green-related industries, according to report data:
- Electric vehicle company Fisker Automotive of Anaheim, Calif., raised two of the largest rounds in 2012, $129 million and $147 million respectively in the first and second quarters of the year.
- Sapphire Energy of San Diego, raised $139 million for its work on algae-based crude oil.
- Harvest Power of Waltham, Mass., landed $112 million for its waste management and biogas operations.
- Elevance Renewable Sciences of Woodridge, Ill., raised $104 million for its green chemicals business.
In Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, the slowdown has been marked.
As Bradley Zenger, a principal with Portland-based cleantech-focused VC firm Pivotal Investments, told Erik Siemers in October, cleantech doesn't deliver the quick returns often associated with high-tech venture investing. Pivotal isn't making new investments from its $17 million fund.
In a story on the topic for Xconomy.com, Kirk Washington, a Seattle-based partner with Vancouver, British Columbia, VC firm Yaletown Venture partners, said says he expects venture investment in cleantech to remain “subdued” in 2013.
A Reuters report from this week suggests that the very reputation of storied venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is on the line due to risky cleantech investments. Kleiner Perkins invested in Tigard-based Agilyx Corp., once one of the state's hottest prospects for a cleantech IPO, and UpWind Solutions which last year moved its headquarters from Medford to San Diego.
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