While 2011 cleantech investing grew, later stage dominated

Cleantech venture capital and corporate investing for the full 2011 year was up in terms of overall dollar amounts compared to 2010, according to the research firm The Cleantech Group, but large follow-on rounds for matured companies continued to dominate the year.
While total venture and corporate investments in cleantech companies in 2011 rose to $8.99 billion — 13 percent over 2010 — the number of deals declined by 7 percent compared to 2010. And a whopping 85 percent of those dollars (or $7.64 billion) went to Series B rounds or later. That leaves only 15 percent of the dollars going into Series A or angel rounds.

Just look at the leading investments for the year. Despite some of the struggles for solar in 2011, solar investments led the year with investments like the $201 million round for BrightSource, a $130 million round for Stion, and $106 million round for Miasole. Other large rounds outside of solar included $200 million for electric vehicle infrastructure company Better Place, $88.6 million for lighting company Soraa, and a massive $315 million for electric car company Fisker Automotive.
If the emphasis remains on backing later stage companies, there’s going to be a lack of new innovative cleantech companies in pipeline over the coming years funded by venture and corporate investing. Part of this funding could be made up by the government — like with the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E early stage research program — but more funding for the DOE in the next few years looks unlikely, too.
However, given not many of these maturing firms have found exits in IPOs or acquisitions yet, expect more of this later stage funding to flow in 2012. The Cleantech Group believes that in terms of overall dollar amounts, “2012 will be an all-time record year for global cleantech investments.”
Chinese companies continue to deliver the desirable exits: 28 of the 51 IPOs in 2011 came out of China, led by clean power companies Sinohydro, Sinovel Wind Group and Huaneng Renewable Energy.
Image courtesy if Christian Rondeau.