I was fortunate to attend the party over at WATEC Israel 2011’s Cleanvest Summit. This is a pre-WATEC summit where startups got a chance to present their ideas to investors and hopefully have someone catch their bait. Cleanvest spotlighted companies from all over the clean energy spectrum, while the rest of the 3 day event exhibited water related technology companies.
In addition to the investor-entrepreneur socializing, the government of Israel was able to score two key contracts with two foreign nations. Both Taiwan and Kenya have made agreements to exchange water technology and data revolving with Israel. Investors from all over the world were present from Germany, France, Brazil, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands; even a news reporter from New Zealand appeared for the event.
Four takeaways from Israel’s Cleanvest Summit:
Clean technology investment is a very conservative sector. Investors would like to see demonstrations of technologies before making any serious committments. And before a young cleantech startup goes international, they should strengthen their technology and limit waste in business development by keep travel and demonstration costs as efficient as possible. Very young startups should take advantage of planning to demonstrate costs with potential partners or vendors prior to big demonstrations.
Corporate sponsorships or partnerships are widely accepted mechanism to build a cleantech company. The biggest player in this field is General Electric. Also, some investors chimed in that one should not be worried for GE or another corporate sponsor to “take-over” a company, this is because these corporate investments are usually not meaningful in scale. The companies are making these investments as a way to keep up with new technologies and for them, ‘startups are like external R&D centers.’
There is a massive global shortage of fresh water. High income countries are using water mainly for industrial use (53% of water), while low income countries mainly use water for agricultural use (67% of water).
Freshwater is expensive. in many developed countries, freshwater costs over 10% of total GDP, this includes Germany, China, Denmark, and Brazil.
Renewable energy will not ‘cross the chasm’ until it reaches grid parity.
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