More and more venture capitalists see the potential for making plenty of “green” profit in clean technologies, according to a report from VentureOne and Ernst & Young.
“Clean teach” firms around the globe secured $1.1 billion in funding through the first half of this year, a 35 percent jump over the same time frame in 2006.
"Clean technology has moved from vision to reality, and it’s now a priority on the CEO agenda of every company from the entrepreneurial growth companies to the multinational market leaders," said Gil Forer, global director of E&Y’s Venture Capital Advisory Group, in the report that was issued Wednesday.
"The accelerating venture capital investments reflect the growing importance of the sector,” he added. “A strong innovation pipeline and confidence in the global drivers supporting growth in the clean technology market – such as government policies, consumer awareness, energy prices and concern about carbon emissions – are driving venture capital investment."
Most of the action took place in the U.S. with 71 deals netting $893 million. Another 19 deals worth $80 million were made in Europe.
The E&Y-VentureOne report reflects statistics gathered by the National Venture Capital Association and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Venture capitalists invested $264 million in 23 clean tech deals in the first quarter, according to their MoneyTree analysis.
However, CleanTech Networks recently reported that clean tech investments increased to just under $1 billion in the quarter, a 10 percent increase over the first quarter of the year. So far in 2007, clean tech firms have received $1.9 billion in funding, which is 10 percent more than in the first half of 2006, according to CleanTech.
Despite the differences in statistics, the trend is clear – growth in clean tech is likely to continue, Forer predicted.
"Venture capital investors are likely to remain bullish about the opportunities in the sector, as regulatory compliance, increased consumer and economic demand have elevated clean technology to a strategic level,” Forer said. “Despite the recent turmoil in the equity markets, we expect more clean technology IPOs in the years to come as the industry matures and the path from investment to exit becomes clear for investors.”
According to E&Y and VentureOne, clean tech investments made up 5.4 percent of venture deals in the U.S., up from 1.4 percent in 2001. The share of clean tech deals in Europe has grown to 4.4 percent from 1.6 percent in the same time period.
Valuations of clean tech properties have increased at a much faster rate, nearly doubling to $30 million this year from $15.8 million six years ago.
Alternative energy companies landed 26 deals with 15 of those representing solar power. The energy investments totaled $458 million, $305 million of which went to solar.
VentureOne and E&Y expect the clean tech sector to continue to growth.
“The premium placed on clean technology companies appears to be the driving force behind the continued surge in investment,” said Jessica Canning, director of global research with Dow Jones VentureOne “With post valuations increasing by 163 percent over the past three years and liquidity events gaining traction, clean technology looks to gain momentum in the venture community.”
Initial public offerings in the clean tech sector included a $361.6 million offering on the NYSE by LDK Solar Hi-Tech, a Chinese firm and a $92.6 million offering by EnerNOC, a U.S. firm, on the Nasdaq.