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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Energy Retrofits Not so Stimulated by Stimulus Bill

greenbuilding3The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — that $787 billion behemoth of a bill that was signed into law in February and was meant to stimulate the U.S. economy — so far seems to have had a beneficial but lackluster impact on the home energy retrofit market. The $4.3 billion in stimulus tax credits for better insulation, double-paned windows, and other energy-saving measures are having a “small but positive” effect on the home remodeling market, research firm Canaccord Adams concludes in a report published today. Any uptick is welcome in this struggling economy, but such modest results after six months raise the question of whether or not the credits will be able to generate $6 billion in remodeling activity through next year, which was the fed’s original estimate.
The report doesn’t dig into how much remodeling activity the credits have delivered to date, but it took a look at other indicators like a building index and various media reports. One reason for less-than-stellar growth is the structure of the tax credits, says Matt Golden, president of home energy retrofitter Sustainable Spaces. If you purchase energy-saving windows, roofs and heating systems, you are eligible for tax credits that are worth 30 percent of the cost of the purchase, up to a maximum of $1,500. But the bulk of the cost of a home energy retrofit is for labor, for which the tax credits don’t apply.
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Nottable Laptop Stand- Use Your Notebook In Any Position

Nottable sittingNotebook stands are a dime a dozen, and they come in all shapes and sizes. It’s unusual, however, when one appears that can be used in many different configurations while sporting high-quality aluminum construction. A new stand from a Brazilian inventor is definitely well constructed and it’s amazing how it can be adjusted to fit any working pose. Want to use your notebook sitting in a chair? How about sitting on the floor? Maybe you’d rather stand while working? Or use your notebook lying in bed? The Nottable stand can be configured to provide access in any of those stances, and more.

The Nottable is available for $150 in a variety of colors. The manufacturer’s video shows how well constructed it is, how quickly it can be set up, and how adjustable it is. You can literally adjust the Nottable to fit the exact height needed for the way you want to work, no matter what position you prefer. You can quickly change the position from time to time to vary your working ergonomics —  a good thing. I need me one of these, that’s for sure.

Nottable floor