CMEA’s Maurice Gunderson Talks Tactics

As the stimulus and the recession both leave marks on the cleantech industry, cleantech investors, along with entrepreneurs, are adjusting to a new landscape. And CMEA Capital is one venture capital firm that seems to be navigating it successfully, so far. The company backed A123Systems, the lithium-ion battery manufacturer whose much-celebrated initial public offering surpassed expectations in the midst of an IPO drought in September, as well as Solyndra, the thin-film solar startup that received the first renewable-energy manufacturing loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy.
We recently sat down with Maurice Gunderson, senior partner at CMEA, who previously co-founded venture-capital firm Nth Power, to discuss his thoughts on the future of the greentech industry, and the how CMEA – and its portfolio companies – are prepared to thrive in the new economy. Here are some excerpts from our conversation:
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The Largest Cleantech VC: China

When private investment in cleantech fell last year, government stimulus programs more than made up the difference, according to estimates that the Cleantech Group released at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco this week. And no government is doing more to fill the gap than China’s. China has set aside a whopping $200.8 billion in stimulus funding for cleantech, 79 percent more than the $112.2 billion the U.S. stimulus funds have allocated to the industry, according to the latest Stern report released last year. (Estimates of U.S. green stimulus funding have varied broadly, with many ranging between $50 billion and $80 billion as of last year with $36.7 billion allocated to the Department of Energy.)

A chart that Sheeraz Haji, president of the Cleantech Group, presented Thursday shows that while worldwide private investment in cleantech fell below $150 billion in 2009, from just above $150 billion the previous year, global stimulus spending added an estimated $76 billion to the total pool of cleantech funding in 2009 and is expected to reach $182 billion this year (see chart, above). The chart is based on analysis from the Cleantech Group, as well as numbers from the World Economic Forum, the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook, Bloomberg’s New Energy Finance and HSBC.
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