2010 should be a good year for clean tech

Jan 08, 2010 By Scott Duke Harris

When a Redwood City company called Codexis disclosed Monday that it had filed documents in preparation of a Wall Street offering, some people said, "Co-who?"

Codexis is one of those companies that might be considered stealthy by accident -- deeply scientific and hard to categorize, it develops biocatalysts to make pharmaceuticals, chemicals and biofuels. It's the clean-tech angle that might make Codexis sizzle with investors, even if its enzymes will never be as sexy as Tesla's roadsters.

Just in time for end-of-the-year crystal-ball gazing, this amateur futurist will echo clean-tech like Erik Straser of Mohr Davidow Ventures and Ira Ehrenpreis of Technology Partners in forecasting a rousing 2010 for clean-tech IPOs, mergers and acquisitions and venture investments.

The latest sign that clean, green mojo is back is a report from Greentech Media that found that venture investments in "green" technologies totaled $4.85 billion in 356 deals in 2009. That was down from $7.6 billion in 350 deals in 2008, but still a strong recovery in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The 2009 sum was nearly $1.5 billion more than the amount invested in 2007, before the worst economic collapse since the 1930s struck.

Greentech Media is one of several outfits -- including Cleantech Group, Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers _ that have tabulated clean-tech investments in recent years. The numbers don't match in part because different outfits use different definitions of what constitutes a "clean" or "green" technology, said Greentech's Eric Wesoff. But the various reports, he added, have always agreed on the broad trends.

, as it has for the last four years, was the leading investment segment in Greentech's report, attracting $1.4 billion in 84 deals. The runner up was biofuels, which attracted $976 million in 44 deals.

The IPO filing by Codexis, a biofuel play from the clean-tech perspective, comes on the heels of a recent filing by Solyndra, a Fremont, Calif., solar startup with a decidedly higher profile. In addition to hefty venture funding, Solyndra, founded in 2005, received a $535 million federal loan guarantee earlier this year. In September, it began building a second solar panel manufacturing plant designed to produce 500 megawatts per year and fulfill its $2 billion backlog of contracts, the company said.

Codexis took a different path to . In 2002, it was spun out of Maxygen, a biotech firm that developed a process it calls MolecularBreeding to develop pharmaceuticals. The news release that unveiled Codexis emphasized its aim to be "a leading provider of high-value chemical products and services to the worldwide life science and fine chemical industry," but there were no overt reference to biofuels, carbon reduction or other clean, green themes.

In 2003, Codexis announced a collaboration with Cargill for a biofuel research project funded by an award from the Department of Energy. Today, its Web site emphasizes not only biofuels, but also its role in the emerging clean-tech markets of carbon capture and safe water.

Codexis reported $50.5 million in revenue in 2008, and $58.7 million in the first nine months of 2009; it had a net loss of $15.1 million from January to September this year. The company is aiming to raise up to $100 million in an IPO, a relatively modest sum.

In pursuing a Wall Street debut, Codexis and Solyndra would be following the recent successful IPO of A123 Systems, a Massachusetts-based maker of lithium-ion battery technology. The three companies share a common investor: CMEA Ventures. Thomas Baruch, who founded CMEA in 1989, is the chairman of Codexis.

With one successful clean-tech IPO and two more in the pipeline, "CMEA is on a little bit of a roll right now," Wesoff said.


In 2009, Greentech Media tabulated $4.85 billion worth of clean-tech venture capital investments into 356 deals, covering 18 categories. The top six by dollar amount:

Solar: $1.41 billion into 84 deals

Biofuels: $985 million into 44 deals

Automotive, Transportation: $553 million into 29 deals

Batteries, Storage: $455 million into 36 deals

Green buildings: $143 million into 10 deals

Wind: $142 million into 17 deals

Explore further: Yahoo sees signs of growth in 'core' (Update)

3.7 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Huge drop in clean-tech venture funding

May 13, 2009

Investments in clean-tech startups plummeted in the first quarter of 2009 compared with recent quarters, according to a report issued this week by Ernst & Young.

Khosla Ventures raises 1 bln dlrs for green tech

Sep 02, 2009

Two new US venture capital funds have raised more that one billion dollars to help propel a green technology revolution, the company founded by influential investor Vinod Khosla said.

Venture-capital investments down 33 pct in 3Q

Oct 20, 2009

(AP) -- Venture capitalists' investments in U.S. startups rose in the third quarter when compared with the first two quarters of the year, suggesting increased confidence in the economy. When compared with the year-ago period, ...

VC investments plunge 51 pct to $3.7 billion in 2Q

Jul 21, 2009

(AP) -- Venture capitalists cut their U.S. investments in half during the spring, the second-consecutive quarter to mark a more than 50 percent decline, leaving the money flowing to startups at the slowest trickle in 12 ...

The Web: Founder sales flourishing

Aug 10, 2005

During the late 1990s and into 2000, every Internet entrepreneur had the same dream: Start an online company and launch an Initial Public Offering on Wall Street a year or two later, becoming fabulously wealthy in the process. ...

Recommended for you

Yahoo sees signs of growth in 'core' (Update)

13 hours ago

Yahoo reported a stronger-than-expected first-quarter profit Tuesday, results hailed by chief executive Marissa Mayer as showing growth in the Web giant's "core" business.

Twitter buys data analytics partner Gnip

16 hours ago

Twitter says it has bought its data partner Gnip, which provides analysis of the more than 500 million tweets its users share each day—to advertisers, academic institutions, politicians and other customers.

Zebra to spend $3.45B on Motorola business

21 hours ago

Zebra Technologies is spending more than $3 billion to buy the enterprise business of Motorola Solutions in a considerable expansion that is both technological and geographical.

Relativity's last-minute bid for Maker rebuffed

Apr 15, 2014

Relativity Media, a film financier and movie distributor, was rebuffed in a last-minute bid for Maker Studios, the YouTube video creator that had agreed to be bought by The Walt Disney Co. last month.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jan 08, 2010
A more environment friendly technology is aneutronic fusion, carbon-free, neutron-free, high energy density, modest land usage.

More news stories

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.

ESO image: A study in scarlet

This new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that ...

First direct observations of excitons in motion achieved

A quasiparticle called an exciton—responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits—has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within ...

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...