So despite the fact that the American economy is falling apart, Silicon Valley venture capitalists continue to invest -- heavily -- in clean technology, reports the Cleantech Group, a research and investor firm.
Last quarter, $2.6 billion was invested across 158 companies in the U.S., Canada, China, Europe and India. This, says the Cleantech Group, represents an all-time high in single-quarter investing in this rapidly rising sector. By its own measure, this figure represents a 37 percent increase over the same period a year ago. Further, to date, its data shows that $6.6 billion has been invested in clean tech, surpassing the total number of dollars invested in 2007.
American companies took the bulk of the dough, raking in $1.75 billion -- and of those, California-based companies received approximately 42 percent of that total sum. Europe took the next highest, at less than half the U.S. amount, coming in at $742 million.
So where is all this money going?
Well, algae is hot. That means biofuels, folks. Cleantech says that in this past quarter alone, $95 million went to algae-related funds and start-ups. What else? Thin-film solar -- better-known, perhaps, by its technical name, copper-indium-gallium-selenide -- is blazing as well. Start-ups in this sector raked in $620 million in this year's third quarter.
And who's giving out this cash?
RockPort Capital Partners are No. 1, follwed by Google (these guys must be on to something!), Advanced Technology Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, and then Khosla Ventures at a respectable No. 5.
That being said, the econ-ocolypse may slow things down. Cleantech's own report states: "we could foresee large scale cleantech projects having to work harder to get financed."
And according to a report in today's San Francisco Chronicle, Wilber James of Rockport Capital Partners seems to believe that this spending spree may not necessarily last. "Nobody can just assume the public markets will be available in two or three years," he said.