Whisper it Quietly, but European Cleantech Is Capturing Discerning Global Attention

European cleantech is in rude health. But if you’re looking at the global news flow and its inevitable attention on the biggest ticket items and the hottest (over-hyped?) segments of the global industrial portfolio, you might conclude not so much is happening in Europe.

You’d be wrong.

In its typically understated way, the European innovation ecosystem is quietly thriving, dealflow is strong, technological excellence is to the fore, available funds for investment are increasing and there has been a strong run of recent exits for venture capital funds (and their Limited Partners).

The globally discerning are already plugged in. Are you?

Here is a small flavor from the last two weeks of dealflow to whet your appetite. Shout-outs to these three European Global Cleantech 100 alumni companies for their newly-announced Series C rounds.

Electrochaea’s investment by ENGIE-owned Storengy brings together a world leader of natural gas underground storage with this power-to-gas pioneer, signalling the growing maturity and rising importance of power-to-gas solutions in the energy transition portfolio. This investment will enable the roll out of commercial projects in the North American and European markets. The technology, interestingly, was originally from the US. The company moved to find its market.

Ubitricity has announced Honda as a new investor in their recent 20 million EUR investment round. The funding will be used to accelerate the roll-out of charge points, in particular retrofitted lamppost charge points and real estate installations across the UK, Germany, France and the US.

 

Setting a new record for a European agritech company, Ynsect’s $125 million round will fund the construction of the world’s largest insect farm that will produce ingredients for fish feed, pet food and crop fertilizers, to capture some of the $500 billion per annum animal feed market. The deal’s syndicate was another example of a rising trend of combining European and Asian capital and know-how.

 

 

We have long been fans of innovation coming out of Sweden

Our collaborations with the Swedish Energy Agency, the primary mover in funding and accelerating next-gen energy solutions in Sweden, go back more than ten years. In the last two years we have been closely monitoring the activities of what we have crudely termed “the billion-dollar club” – a variety of organizations with $1 billion + dry powder to invest and who have interests in some or many aspects of the broad cleantech theme.

In the last two weeks, these two themes in our working life just came together.

  • EXEGER, one of our 2017-18 Ones to Watch companies, has received investment from SoftBank to help accelerate the global rollout of its solar cell technology. This technology has the potential to enhance any product with endless power – bringing the future of the self-powered device that little bit closer. Watch, no more!
  • Breakthrough Energy Ventures has invested $12.5 million, into Baseload Capital, a geothermal project development company set up by Climeon, a Swedish company we have seen at a number of our forums in recent years. Climeon build standardized machines to tap geothermal energy and convert it to electricity. Baseload Capital invests in special purpose vehicles (SPVs) to build the power plants that use Climeon’s technology.
The renaissance of the pioneer venture capitalists

Today I have released what would have been, bar the flu intervening, my 29 January keynote presentation at our recent Cleantech Forum San Francisco. In it, I highlight in one slide the less talked about phenomenon of the bounce-back of the pioneers, meaning venture capitalists active in the 2000s on both sides of the Atlantic, who have managed to weather the storm of the 2010s, and who in 2018 successfully fundraised for various follow-on funds and are simultaneously announcing a string of successful exits, one of which I covered recently under the notion of Does Shell’s Acquisition of Sonnen Represent our Netscape Moment? The last two weeks has brought another, with Limejump having also been acquired by Shell.

Shout-out to European cleantech. There is more to come. There is more for our global network to discover.

Come meet some of these companies, and many more besides, at our 15th annual Cleantech Forum Europe in Stockholm, 21-23 May – still the premier annual venue to connect with this European innovation ecosystem. Leading investors and corporates, pioneers and new entrants alike will be there, including some of the pioneer VCs involved in some of the above transactions, such as Demeter Partners, Idinvest Partners, Munich Venture Partners and SET Ventures.