Pretty safe to say that most of the financial world isn't focused on cleantech venture capital this week.
However, here in Washington, DC the 18th Cleantech Venture Forum is in full swing, with nearly 500 attendees from VC firms, startups, larger companies, and assorted other market participants. I've already been asked by a couple of reporters about the impact of Lehman, et al, on cleantech venture capital, and the answer seems to be "we'll have to see." There seems to be little direct impact, aside from perhaps a few companies re-evaluating their choice of i-bankers. But the overall market conditions may impact the sector in less direct but still significant ways.
Meanwhile, the first day of the CTVF was another good networking and learning experience. Interestingly there's a relatively strong presence here of Scandanavian companies -- not sure what that means, but it's interesting.
Perhaps the two highlights from the day were the water presentation by Dr. Peter Rogers of Harvard and the political roundtable discussion moderated by John Harris of Politico
Dr. Rogers spoke on the challenges facing our society when it comes to freshwater supplies, based on his article published in Scientific American
back in July. The talk was great not because it was full of new info (at least for those readers who already follow this issue), but because it was a terrific summary and crystalization of the challenge and the necessary solutions. Dr. Rogers proposed a 6 point action plan:
1. Price water closer to its real societal cost
2. Conserve irrigation water, including the use of low-water plants (perhaps via implementation of GMOs)
3. Invest in water infrastructure (which will require trillions of dollars worldwide)
4. Adopt eco-sanitation -- reducing the use of water in sanitation and recovering what water is used
5. Ship "virtual water" by rationalizing world food trade
6. Utilizing advanced desalination technologies
Later in the day, the political discussion featured Jason Grumet from the Obama campaign, Hank Habicht of Sail Ventures (representing the red team but not nec. the McCain campaign), Frances Beinecke of the NRDC, and Jeff Leonard of GEF, alongwith the aforementioned John Harris as moderator. It was a good, rational discussion of energy and climate policy and likely shifts next year; but of course, during this good, rational discussion there was concurrent horse-trading going on just down the street as the House worked on a very politically-driven energy bill
. A bit of an awkward juxtaposition. But it gives me the excuse to link to Politico
, one of my favorite websites, so there's that at least.