Cleantech venture funding expanded 28 percent in 2010 to $7.8 billion, according to the latest tally by the Cleantech Group, which tracks this sort of thing.
The good news is that this was close to 2008 levels, with a total of 715 deals (a new record). North America accounted for 68 percent of the money invested. California was by far the state that attracted the most money, followed by Massachusetts and Texas.
The bad news is that venture capital funding activity declined during the third and fourth quarters of last year. Investments in the fourth quarter totaled approximately $1.6 billion which was down from the third quarter (sequentially).
By the numbers, the solar sector attracted the most money with about 24 percent of the money invested, but during a call to discuss the results, Cleantech Group CEO Sheeraz Haji said that was in part due to the decision by photovoltaic company Solyndra's decision to pull its initial public stock offering and look instead to venture capitalists for $175 million.
Transportation and energy efficiency were the No. 2 and No. 3 most popular sectors, when you consider the amount of money invested.
If you look at the sheer number of deals, however, energy efficiency is where it's at. There were 151 deals last year, compared with 117 in the solar sector. There were five energy efficiencies highlighted during the Cleantech call to discuss the results.
There were (in alphabetical order):
- Lattice Power - An LED technology company
- OpenPeak - Creator of a cloud-based energy management platform
- Opower - Developer of an customer engagement solution being embraced by utilities
- ShineOn - Another LED technology player
- Smooth Stone - Low-power chip technology