ACES, Accommodation, Populist Revolts, and Pass the Sugar


Troy Ault
With the support of Silicon Valley Bank and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, CTG convened our most recent Power Breakfast last week in San Francisco. More than fifty individuals representing major corporations, investors, start-ups, and other transportation industry stakeholders made their way to WSGR’s One Market offices – which overlook the daily traffic nightmare that is the Bay Bridge morning commute – under the following banner: When electric vehicles are producing half the emissions of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles... Read More »

Disruptive Materials: Common innovation opportunities & challenges


Troy Ault
At our Cleantech Forum San Francisco last week, we were able to convene three companies – EXEGER, NanoSpun Technologies, and Polar Sapphire – to present various new advanced material technologies. We were also joined onstage by two domain-specific investors in Pangaea Ventures and M-Ventures (the corporate venture arm of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany) for a discussion of new technologies, common opportunities and challenges that innovators in the space commonly face. Throughout the panel, we were able to uncover a few... Read More »

Sink or Swim: Challenging times in water start-up fundraising


Troy Ault
If the raw venture investment data is anything to go by, it seems these are trying times for water technology start-ups hoping to raise venture funding. After a modern peak in 2013 of 113 deals and more than $400 million invested, both annual dollars invested and deal volume have declined at a compounded rate of -24% per year, to just $148 million invested across 37 deals in 2016. In addition, 2016 marked the first year since 2010 in which our... Read More »

December’s Power Breakfast: A How-to on Messaging and Fundraising with the Experts


Troy Ault
To date, most of our Power Breakfasts have focused on a specific technology or market sector. This past Tuesday, we took the opportunity to host a hands-on, very interactive power breakfast on important skills for building your company – namely, how to craft a powerful story and use it for fundraising and sales. Any company needs to be able to tell a good story – and give a good pitch. Regardless of the audience, the component parts of the story... Read More »

The Evolution of Smart Grid Venturing


Troy Ault
In venture capital investment, the smart grid category of yesterday was mostly driven by the advent of smart meters, meter data management apps, and the genesis of demand response and storage. Investments were made in companies like Silver Spring Networks, Trilliant and eMeter (acquired by Siemens) in metering and meter data management, EnerNOC (C&I service unit recently acquired by CLEAResult) in demand response, and numerable battery chemistry innovators on the storage side. Smart grid innovation today, however, is all about... Read More »

Corporate Strategics Off to the Races in 2015


Troy Ault
It’s off to the races in 2015 for corporate-strategic backers of innovation that drives sustainability across key resource-heavy industries. In just the first three weeks of the year, we’ve already seen more than ten venture deals exhibiting corporate participation. These include Saint-Gobain’s investment in Qivivo’s Series A for smart buildings; Swire Pacific’s investment in Green Biologics for renewable chemicals and biofuels; and internet giant Alibaba’s participation in Kuaidi Dache’s massive $600 million round for smart phone-driven transportation services. Using the... Read More »

3Q14 Venture Investment in Recycling & Waste Technology: Something Old, Something New


Troy Ault
Two fundraising events in the Recycling & Waste sector piqued our interest last week. First, Finnish company Enevo raised an $8 million Series B round for its planned network of trash can sensors, which provide data on how full a garbage bin is and allow municipalities to optimize collection routes accordingly. Secondly, India-based Attero disclosed a $15 million Series C addition for its e-waste offering. The latter was noteworthy because we’ve seen other start-ups similar to Attero gaining traction recently. Shanghai-based Aihuishou raised... Read More »

Corporate Partnerships Help Inventys Scale-up Carbon Capture Tech


Troy Ault
We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Andre Boulet, CEO of Inventys – a developer of energy- and capital-efficient carbon capture technology – after the company announced its latest round of growth funding from new strategic investor Chevron Technology Ventures, as well as existing investors, last week. The company got started in 2007 with a unique piece of technology based on the process of thermal swing adsorption. Unlike other post-combustion carbon capture technologies that use amines or chemical solvents, Inventys’ VeloxoTherm™ platform is based on a... Read More »

Big Bets on Energy Storage so far in Q1


Troy Ault
Just over a month into the first quarter, it's becoming clear venture investors are renewing their bets on energy storage in 2014. Within the first week of January, we'd learned of Aquion Energy's second, $20 million closing of its $55 million Series D round and of Amprius' $30 million Series C round. Aquion Energy's Series D, opened in April 2013, saw new investors including Bill Gates, Yung’s Enterprise, Tao Invest, Bright Capital, and Gentry Venture Partners join previous investors Kleiner Perkins... Read More »

Oil & Gas Majors Backing Innovation in Clean Technology with Greater Regularity


Troy Ault
We often note the importance of corporate venturing in fostering clean technology innovation. Corporates, thanks to their big balance sheets and operational experience, are often the optimal partner for cleantech companies looking to scale and commercialize a new technology or service. And for several years now, our deal-tracking on i3 has shown that consistently one-fifth of all cleantech venture deals have exhibited corporate investor participation. In August, 2013, following a conversation I had with Jean-Michel Gires, a partner at Canadian... Read More »