i3 Quarterly Innovation Monitor Reports Trends in Sustainable Innovation from First Half of 2014

Transportation, Solar and Agriculture & Food most active sectors

SAN FRANCISCO, CA–July 24, 2014Cleantech Group™ (CTG), developer of the i3 market intelligence platform, today announced the results of first-half trend analysis in sustainable innovation. The analysis of corporate and venture investment raised and partnerships formed by early- and growth-stage start-up companies identified clear trends in the top sectors for innovation.


The Transportation sector continued to be one of the most vibrant in the second quarter with commercial partnerships formed by numerous companies, including Local Motion (fleet management) and ChargePoint (electric vehicle charging), and investments made in electric and fuel cell vehicles, biofuels, and digital- or web-enabled solutions for vehicles, fleet logistics, and transit.

Corporate and institutional investors drove venture equity investment in the sector to $2.8 billion across 72 deals during the first half of 2014. That dollar total was four-times higher than the average for the previous two halves. Even excluding the huge $1.2 billion round raised by Uber (ride sharing), the first-half total is 220 percent higher than the average in 2013.

Corporate investors active in the space in Q2 included Google Ventures in Uber’s aforementioned deal, as well as Sinopoly Battery’s $40 million growth investment in Smith Electric Vehicles and participation from Mitsui, GM Ventures, Edison International, and Constellation Energy in Proterra’s $31 million growth round for electric buses.


The Solar sector continued to demonstrate a rebound in innovation trends in commercial partnerships and investments in Q2, and commanded $659 million in institutional and corporate venture capital over 41 deals in the first half of the year. That dollar total was 57 percent higher than the average of the first and second halves of 2013.

Top corporate investments during the second quarter spanned installation services, solar PV-energy storage integration, and automated maintenance for large solar installations. Residential solar services company Sungevity raised $70 million in growth equity from investors including E.ON and GE Ventures. Sunverge Energy, a company targeting packaged installations of battery systems with solar arrays, raised $15 million in a Series B round from Siemens Venture Capital, Total Energy Ventures, and others. QBotix, a developer of robots that optimize solar installations, raised $7 million in its Series B round from investors including E.ON and Iberdrola.

The second quarter also saw several exciting partnerships formed by venture-backed companies in the Solar space. Notable new relationships included SolarCityMercatus, Clean Power FinanceKilowatt Financial, and OneRoof EnergyChoose Energy.


The Agriculture & Food sector continued its growth trajectory from the first quarter, coming in at $471 million in corporate and institutional venture capital invested during the first half across 62 deals. Both dollars invested and deal volume were 68 percent higher than in the second half of 2013 ($280 million across 37 deals); 96 percent and 72 percent higher, respectively for dollars invested and deal volume, compared to the running average for both halves of 2013.

The second quarter saw commercial partnerships formed by companies including micro-algae to animal-feed developer Algaeon (with Heartland Growers) and field imaging & analysis company Skybox Imaging (with Hexagon Geospatial) before its acquisition by Google in June for $500 million.

Exemplary corporate strategic investments during the second quarter included Suez Environment’s Blue Orange fund investment in Agri-Esprit, a developer of software-supported services for farms, and Arcadia Biosciences’ $33 million growth funding from investors including Vilmorin and BASF Venture Capital.


Other top innovation sectors for the quarter included Energy Efficiency, Bio Commodities, Energy Storage, Oil & Gas, Smart Grid, Water, and Recycling & Waste.

For more in-depth data and analysis, interested parties can read the i3 Quarterly Innovation Monitor reports covering each sector, to be published mid-August, and subscribe to i3.

“Successful second-quarter initial public offerings by companies like Opower, Intelligent Energy,Aspen Aerogels, and Lumenpulse demonstrate strong public market appetite for sustainable innovation,” said Sheeraz Haji, CEO of CTG. “Big corporate appetites for external innovation have driven exit activity through acquisitions like that of Ecova by GDF Suez. Meanwhile SolarCity’s acquisition of Silevo illustrates a move towards vertical integration in solar and also a number of other sectors.”

About Cleantech Group Inc. (CTG)

CTG helps clients accelerate sustainable innovation. The company’s i3 market intelligence platform, which tracks over $7 billion of deal flow annually across 23,000 cleantech companies, allows subscribers to find, vet, and connect with entrepreneurs—efficiently building an innovation pipeline. Cleantech Forums bring the i3 platform to life by convening thought leaders and innovators around diverse themes in innovation. CTG’s Advisory Services leverage expertise in designing and executing corporate strategies for sustainable growth and innovation sourcing. Details at www.cleantech.com

Emma Zolbrod
Cleantech Group
Email: media-services@cleantech.com