Cleantech is dead, like the Internet was in 2000

Throughout 2012, I’ve often heard entrepreneurs and investors working on technologies like clean energy, smart grid, electric cars and even biofuels, talk about the future of the term “cleantech.” It’s an umbrella term that describes very disparate sectors and was created to explain an investment class that has become less attractive to investors over the past 18 months. So, will cleantech as a term die, or morph into a new term? Or will it survive and stick as the preferred name to classify companies looking to address a coming era of resource constraints?

That question was at the heart of my discussion with three cleantech investors at the VERGE Conference this week. I had the opportunity of getting to spend an hour chatting with Josh Green, partner with Mohr Davidow, Rodrigo Prudencio, Partner with Nth Power, and Mitch Lowe, partner with digital green accelerator Greenstart.

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Lowe had a great quote at the beginning of our discussion: “Cleantech’s dead in the same way the Internet was dead in 2000.” Essentially, the work done in the late 90’s for the internet laid the foundation for today’s massive internet ecosystem, and for cleantech, Lowe thinks the last 8 years have similarly laid the foundation for the future of cleantech. Limited partners may not have seen terrific returns over the past 8 years, said Lowe, but he thinks we’re now entering an incredibly exciting time for investing in cleantech, and specifically for digital green technologies.

Check out the rest of the video, and hear our in-depth discussion on the future of cleantech innovation, entrepreneurs and investors.