custom cleantech research and consulting

In Christian Science Monitor

“Public concern about climate change was more noticeable a year ago before rising gas prices made people look more at their pocket book than at the polar icecaps.”

— Dallas Kachan

Poll: World wants green action, despite costs, November 19, 2009

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Think locally, act globally in cleantech

Submitted by Dallas Kachan on Wed, 04/28/2010 - 16:32

I'm pretty fond of where I live.

And I imagine you are too. You've chosen to be there!

So it only stands to reason that we'd want to preserve and better our places.

But there's a professional quandary therein: opportunities in cleantech aren't always in our backyards. We can't always be satisfied with looking globally and acting locally when it comes to cleantech, because important things ARE indeed happening around the planet.

Which is a curious phenomenon to watch here in San Francisco—one of the most important technology hubs in the world. With so much scientific horsepower, financial capital and entrepreneurial drive clustered here, some must think that everything that happens here is important to pay attention to. But there's occasional noise in the signal.

Case in point: a recent blog detailed a perceived downturn in Silicon Valley green jobs, suggesting a local surplus of green collar workers lamented recently at a local conference was representative.

But no, there are plenty of cleantech/greentech jobs, according to the green jobs site GreenjobsGo (which catalogs more than 6,000 green jobs worldwide posted in the last 3 months, unlike average green job boards that each list a few hundred.) They're just not necessarily in California. They're elsewhere, like Europe and China.

There's a danger in thinking that what's happening in cleantech in our local areas is representative of the rest of the world. But cleantech isn't a provincial phenomenon. It's now a worldwide economic response to global challenges that's creating global opportunities.

That's borne out by the data: witness the rise of Asia, overtaking North America in cleantech in several important metrics. China accounted for 72 percent of the global cleantech IPO proceeds raised in 2009 (see Cleantech hits VC deal record in 2009). Almost half the companies that went public in cleantech in 2009 were in China. The largest cleantech IPO of 2009? China Longyuan Electric Power Group, which raised $2.23 billion.

As someone who gets to travel around the world speaking with clients and investors, and interviewing cutting edge clean technology entrepreneurs, I'm convinced that the decentralized nature of cleantech today—with innovation happening in unlikely places, like algae breakthroughs in Australia and nuclear research in Vancouver—is unlike any other technical revolution of the past, e.g. Arab mathematics, Chinese gunpowder or the Industrial Revolution in Europe.

The takeaway? If you're in this global business of clean technology, embrace possibilities outside where you call home. Get out of your comfort zone and start looking afield for inspiration and/or new business.

In other words, think locally, but act globally.


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