There's been too much blind faith within the cleantech venture sector on proprietary technology as the primary way for startups to create a competitive advantage.
Certainly, holding a defensible patent can help a startup with a cost or performance advantage to maintain that advantage over time. Proprietary IP has been part of the success story of early cleantech "winners" such as First Solar, for example.
But the pursuit of such proprietary technology can be very expensive -- in both direct and indirect ways.
First of all, it can be expensive to develop and commercialize products based upon truly differentiated core technology. Thin-film solar is again another example of...