New cleantech startups challenging a risky business (and climate) environment

This week, a landmark report was released on the devastating and real effects of climate change on business as usual within the United States. (Spoiler alert: Things won’t remain business as usual.) Deviating from the tomes released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change earlier this year that assert medium to high confidence assurances that climate is changing, this report clearly states the economic risk facing U.S. business resulting from climate change.

Armed with dollar figures supported by a substantiated risk analysis, the report, entitled “Risky Business”, delivered a cautionary message rather than a much needed how-to manual for the business community. The real win, however, were the report authors: Former Mayor Bloomberg, Former Secretary of Treasury Hank Paulsen, and Tom Steyer; an unlikely group of climate advocates from opposing political groups that, in and of itself, amplifies the importance of the present issue.

At this point, however, the “cleantech community” (ostensibly, those interested in how a changing climate necessitates new, sustainable innovation) is well-versed in the latest facts and figures, and now is one step ahead: innovation sourcing. But innovation is all around us, and it’s hard. Companies are asking themselves how they can discover the next ride-sharing start up, the next smart home device, or the next generation biofuel technology. And on a higher level, how do large companies navigate a rapidly changing technology landscape? And how do they differentiate against their competitors?

At Cleantech Group, we think about those problems a lot, and are constantly redefining what it means to be an “innovative” company taking on some of the biggest challenges our world faces today. This week, Next Step Living, a whole-home energy solutions company, received $25 million from cleantech heavy hitters Braemar Energy Ventures, Black Coral Capital, and VantagePoint Capital Partners. Nest, the prolific smart thermostat maker, bought Dropcam for $555M to provide even more intelligence within your home (for better or worse). These companies are changing the way people consume energy within their home. Referencing the report above, agricultural yields are predicted to decline more than 10% over the next to 5 to 10 years in some regions across the U.S. Advanced technologies that monitor and improve the usage of water and fertilizer on agricultural fields are emerging to address these issues. OnFarm, a SaaS farm management platform, Driptech, a manufacturer of micro-irrigation systems for small farmers, and mOasis, a developer of advanced soil technology that optimizes water resources—these are just a few to watch.

So yes, business is risky, but innovation is happening.