100 cool cleantech companies

Smart grid player Silver Spring Networks lands on top; energy efficiency and solar players vie for dominance.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

Just spent a day this week at the Cleantech Forum New York, where the research firm released its annual ranking of the 100 most promising companies focused on so-called clean technology—everything from solar to energy efficiency to green transportation options to systems for ensuring the safety and availability of the world's water supply.

Some statistics from the list that I hope you will find as intriguing as I did:

  • The company actually considered close to 3,140 private companies in the scheme of things, plucked from venture capital investment lists as well as other rankings. The shortlist was around 218 companies. That's a lot of cleantech activity.
  • The average age of the companies on the list is about 7 years; the average size is about 112 employees.
  • There were 57 new players on the list, compared with the 2009 ranking.
  • 14 countries were represented; the United States was home to the largest number of Cleantech 100 companies (55), followed by the United Kingdom (11) and Germany (7).
  • The three most dominant sectors on the list were Energy Efficiency (with 15 companies), Solar (with 14 companies) and Biofuels (14 companies).
  • Silver Spring Networks got a double shout-out, as both the top company on the list as well as one of the five companies that inspired the most "lust" among the judges. The other companies on the lust list were: Car-sharing pioneer Zipcar, home energy reporting company Opower, LED technoogy company Bridgelux and solar plant operator BrightSource Energy.
  • Another company, Bloom Energy, received the dubious "Marmite" award. If you aren't up on British culture, this is a spread that you either love or you hate. Apparently, the judges had lots of feelings both ways about the power generation technology company, which sells what it calls energy servers.
  • Watch this space: If you are wondering about the influence of the Global Cleantech 100, it helps to look at those who have drummed up the most support through relationships. The top 5 players in this regard are: Google, IBM, Landis+Gyr, PG&E and Siemens. If you are a U.S.-centric reader of this blog, Landis+Gyr very well may be the biggest most influential cleantech company that you have never heard of, but the company is probably the world leader in smart meter deployments.
  • 60 different experts with an opinion about cleantech helped vett the finalists and the Cleantech Group's research director Richard Youngman says there were some fascinating companies that didn't make the list (maybe next year?)

Finally, here are the top 10 North American players on the list, listed alphabetically:

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