GE and Carbon Trust partner to boost cleantech business growth

by Search Gate staff. Published Mon 20 Feb 2015 09:43
Developing cleantech is the aim of new link-up

GE and the Carbon Trust have announced a new pan-European partnership to accelerate European clean tech growth amid growing evidence that the region is struggling to keep up with other parts of the globe in this critical sector.

The initial 18 month phase of the partnership includes a $5 million business incubation fund targeted at new low carbon technologies in the area of infrastructure applications. The Carbon Trust will work with GE to identify and evaluate early stage companies, then incubate and invest in those with the most potential.

This partnership is part of the $200 million GE ecomagination Challenge, a global open innovation initiative with Venture Capital partners that launched in 2010 to find and fund the best ideas around cleantech technology. To date, GE and partners have committed $134 million for investment and commercial partnerships with start-up companies globally.

According to GE’s recent Innovation Barometer, which polled 2,800 businesses across 22 markets globally, the majority of UK companies surveyed saw innovation as fundamental to the future health of the UK – both economically and socially – but that sufficient triggers are not in place to stimulate and encourage it.

The results make it clear that UK companies see collaboration as a key to future growth. 84% of UK businesses believe that developing partnerships and collaboration with a combination of players - including government, big business, SMEs and individuals - is the key to success in innovation. Almost 9 out of 10 UK businesses also claim that SMEs and individual entrepreneurs can be as innovative as bigger companies, reinforcing the need for seed funding and support for local innovations and ideas.

Carbon Trust Chief Executive Tom Delay said: “Cleantech has the capacity to be a strong growth driver for Europe given its strong research capability and track record in this area. However, there is increasing evidence that other parts of the world are catching up and overtaking the region. This exciting initiative will accelerate the commercialisation of Europe’s more promising cleantech businesses.”

Over the past five years Europe has seen its global clean energy lead eroded compared to other parts of the world. According to a recent Bloomberg New Energy Finance report, in 2007 42% of the world’s clean energy investment took place in Europe compared to just 25% today. During the same period Asia Oceania has almost doubled its share of overall investment.

Analysis of venture capital investment activity in Q4 2017 by the Cleantech Group showed that North America accounted for almost two thirds of total venture capital investments in the cleantech sector in this period, with Europe and Asia Pacific accounting for just 19% and 18% respectively.

GE UK Chief Executive Mark Elborne commented: “GE was one of the first global companies to develop a strategy around the environment and business with our highly successful ecomagination initiative. We are increasingly focused on identifying new businesses, technologies and human talent in this area. GE sees the business benefit but also the potential these new technologies offer in delivering overall economic growth and improved resource efficiency.”

Tom Delay continued: “This announcement marks a major development for the Carbon Trust and will help Europe achieve its potential. The region has historically led innovation in this area but we increasingly need to ensure clean technology businesses are commercialised fast and effectively so Europe can keep ahead.

During a downturn, supporting these businesses becomes doubly important: research studies show that such high growth businesses account for a disproportionate amount of job growth. At the same time, they have a greater need for capital than lower growth businesses and this can be an issue if banks are restrained on lending. Incubation funds such as this one can help,”

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