Securing IoT for the Clean Economy: A review of product trends through recent deal activity


Troy Ault
On March 15, in its first announcement of sanctions against Russian actors, the Trump administration formally acknowledged attempted cyber attacks on US electricity grid infrastructure. Prevention, detection and response to such attacks have been improving ever since the first known cyber-attack successful in disrupting grid service (also attributed to Russian actors) occurred in Ukraine in December 2015. It’s not just the Kremlin; today, utility folks we’ve spoken to say that attempts at cyber-infiltration of physical infrastructure are understood to be... Read More »

Cognitive Dissonance Must not Derail Good Investment Strategies


Troy Ault
Adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement in December 2015 brought a wave of euphoria, a sense that we'd beaten the bureaucratic odds and actually gotten something done. Then came some sobering math. The stark realization of what needs to be done has been a galvanizing force that's returned investment to new technologies focused on re-balancing our carbon budget. In 2017, we acknowledged the increased focus specifically in carbon-to-value technologies that put captured carbon to work as a feedstock rather than... Read More »

Changing the Corporate + Startup Collaboration Paradigm


Troy Ault
On Wednesday, January 31, I had the privilege of participating alongside several representatives of corporate innovation or venturing teams, entrepreneurs, and early-stage investors in a symposium exploring feasibility of an industry standard, simplified partnership agreement (SiPA) between corporates and startups. Kudos, first, to the Activation Energy team (Matt, Nikhil, Jeanne, etc.) for their vision in organizing the gathering, and for securing grant funding for the initiative from the Department of Energy’s Innovation Pathways program. Importantly, such a meeting could not... Read More »

Room for Innovation in Mature Renewable Energy Industries


Troy Ault
In mid-October we hosted our latest Power Breakfast here in San Francisco with the support, as always, of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Silicon Valley Bank. So, I’ve been meaning to post this for a few weeks, but have been happily busy on various client work and prep for a new baby girl set to arrive later this month! Better late than never! At any rate, our topic in October was SaaS Innovation in Pursuit of Lowest-Cost Renewable Power,... Read More »

Plant Genomics is Latest Frontier of Artificial Intelligence


Troy Ault
In spite of the much-covered legal battle over the intellectual property related to CRISPR Cas9 gene editing technology, companies in the cleantech ecosystem have been pushing forward, continuously innovating with new techniques and resulting tools for industry. Most recently, this last week culminated in Benson Hill Biosystems’ announcement of its new CRISPR 3.0 tool for agricultural applications, including increasing the nutritional density of crops and improving yield against stressors such as drought, among others. That company’s $25 million Series B... Read More »

Is Lithium-Ion unassailable in stationary energy storage markets?


Troy Ault
CTG’s Power Breakfast series is supported by Silicon Valley Bank and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Thank you to our sponsors!   At our latest Power Breakfast this past Wednesday, we convened a great panel and room full of energy storage industry players, from start-ups and investors to utilities and project developers. Our panel consisted of: Mark Perutz from DBL Partners, one of the first venture investors in Tesla Ilan Gur, former founder of lithium-ion battery company Seeo (acquired by... Read More »

What’s ailing water?


Troy Ault
Contributions from: Nikhila Krishnan, Summer Analyst  While other clean technology sectors including energy, transportation, and agriculture experience stable or growing investment, it appears investors are not as bullish on disrupting or improving water markets with new technology as they once were (note that, for purposes of this analysis we’ve included smart irrigation technologies in our water category). Five years ago, water innovation accounted for 9-10% of the annual deal volume in clean technology venture capital, and 5-6% of invested dollars, as tracked... Read More »

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 »