Clean Tech Investors Open Their Wallets A Little Wider--Especially For The Auto Industry

July 2, 2009

Hot on the heels of yesterday's news that the auto sales slump may be slowing comes news that venture capitalists are growing more adventuresome--at least in the field of clean technology. And for now, the big winner is the auto industry.

According to the Cleantech Group--a research firm based in San Francisco--94 clean technology outfits in North America, Europe, China, and India garnered nearly $1.2 billion in funds from venture capitalists during the second quarter of 2009. That figure is up about 12% from the first quarter of the year, although it's still 44% lower than the second quarter of 2008. The average funding round was $12.9 million.

Broken out by sector, vehicle concerns topped the charts, earning around $236 million. Included in that group of recipients are T. Boone Pickens and his Monroe, Louisiana-based V-Vehicle Company, as well as Fisker Automotive. Biofuel innovators scored big, too, with $206 million in investments, and advanced battery developers garnered $165 million.

Interestingly, the majority of companies funded--66%--were based in North America. Together, Europe and Israel generated 21%. India received 11% of the pot, and China 1%. Maybe we're biased--especially in light of the coming holiday weekend--but we think that says great things about the environment of innovation that the U.S. (and presumably Canada) foster.

If you've got the time, we've posted the majority of Cleantech's press release below. And if you don't...well, enjoy the holiday.

[Cleantech via BusinessInsider]

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Clean technology venture investment rebounds in 2Q09 after two consecutive quarterly declines

$1.2 billion in venture capital invested in clean technology companies, led by electric vehicles and biofuels, while solar investment hits new low

SAN FRANCISCO – July 1, 2009 – The Cleantech Group™, founders of the cleantech sector and providers of leading global market research, events and advisory services for the cleantech ecosystem, along with Deloitte, which provides audit, tax, consulting and financial advisory services to cleantech companies, today released preliminary 2Q09 results for clean technology venture investments in North America, Europe, China and India, totaling $1.2 billion across 94 companies.

Cleantech venture investment rebounded in the second quarter, after having declined significantly in 4Q08 and 1Q09, paralleling declines in other investment sectors amid the global economic downturn. The 2Q09 total is up 12 percent from the previous quarter, although down 44 percent from the same period a year ago. The average round size in 2Q09 was $12.9 million, up from $12.3 million 1Q09.

“Cleantech venture investment has rebounded moderately after free-falling for two consecutive quarters,” said Brian Fan, senior director of research, Cleantech Group. “We are seeing initial signs of recovery in other cleantech asset classes, including recent activity in solar tax equity, increased M&A levels, as well as billions in government stimulus that are being allocated globally to the cleantech sector over the next several quarters. Additionally, new climate and energy legislation from governments worldwide and the upcoming Copenhagen climate negotiations continue to be strong drivers of investment and innovation.”

“While venture investment in solar is down dramatically, utility investment in cleantech is up. Solar thermal was the leading energy source procured through power purchase agreements in the first half of 2009,” said Scott Smith, U.S. leader of Deloitte’s Cleantech practice. “New investment tax credits are playing a major role in making new solar thermal, solar PV, and wind projects more economically viable for utilities, which are bringing their access to capital to the sector.”

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