Friday, February 02, 2007

Green tech leads economic rebound

I can’t express how comforting it is to copy down that headline .

Working in green tech fields may look fun from the outside, but like any other kind of enterprise, it's got to be sustainable. You have to prove your economic value to the customer every time, just like the rest of the world.

In a world of rapidly restructuring economies, it has not always been easy to prove out enviro stuff. You need big, fast paybacks or nobody buys it.

However, the world continues to turn. And now I'm seeing headlines reading 'Green tech leads economic rebound.'

Obviously, the technologies are improving all the time, creating more green tech successes. On top of that, the paybacks from fixing environmental problems are rising rapidly. The many liabilities and inefficiencies implicit in generating waste cannot be understated. Fixing those problems is becoming a priority in every sector of every economy.

And where there are needs, there are opportunities for enterprise.

There was a good article in Monday’s New York Times by Laurie J. Flynn about green tech leading an economic rebound in Silicon Valley.

"... investment in clean technology - from alternative energy products, like solar panels and hybrid cars, to the use of nanotechnology to solve environmental problems - went from $34 million in the first quarter of 2006 to $290 million in the third quarter," according to a report released Sunday.

Software and semiconductor companies in Silicon Valley received about 40% of the new money, leaving about 60% to be spread around many markets, or as the article notes, "Clean technology crosses many industries..."

The NPR radio program Science Friday, hosted by Ira Flatow picked up on the story this afternoon. Mr. Flatow interviewed John Denniston, partner in the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) about the 'business side of green tech'. These guys are in the elite lanes of the VC world, probably not a road many of us will travel. But it is very interesting to see what their view of the business side of green tech looks like.

John Denniston cited what he saw as the characteristics of the green tech field and why the funding for green tech was advancing so rapidly.

Mr Denniston cited two important pieces that rang true for me. I’m watching it happen in my day job.

The first is the rapid emergence of many new green tech niches, all focused on solving specific problems.

The second is the acceleration of talent coming into the field.

Your solutions don’t have to involve high tech, biotech, or nanotech (though all certainly qualify). You just need to solve real problems with repeatable solutions. No matter the venue, that’s green tech, friend.

The acceleration of talent coming into the field should include you.

Pick a problem and have at it. Welcome.

New York Times green tech funding article Jan. 29, 2007

$100K yearly prize for green tech innovation funded by Kleiner Perkins.

Ira Flatow /Science Friday archive page for this show with this green tech section available separately.

John Denniston page at KPCB

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