SustainLane Government just released its ranking of top US cities for cleantech incubation clusters. Which cities are the best candidates to be the center of 21st century cleantech economic development?
As many of you know, cleantech refers to venture-capital (VC) funded investment for sustainability related industry sectors such as renewable energy, alternative fuels, energy efficiency, green building, advanced materials, nanotechnology and material reuse.
So, without further ado, the top five US cleantech incubation clusters:
1. Austin, TX: one of the oldest—circa 2001--and most developed clusters. Austin’s Clean Energy Incubator has a well-established VC network, university participation (U Texas at Austin) and a bonafide testbed in the form of city-owned utility Austin Energy. The last element is something that most clusters lack, but Austin lets these start-ups have at fielding testing and prototyping on a scale that normally would be only available to the big guys.
2. San Jose, CA: How could you think VC and not give a nod to the (Silicon) Valley? The Valley’s cleantech firms got about 60 percent of the state’s VC funding in 2006, up from about 30 percent in 2005, according to the “Cleantech Capital Alert” newsletter. Solar and various other cleantech start-ups are running amok here, and though San Jose State is not an academic powerhouse, it is acting as an R&D partner for the Environmental Business Cluster, as is the city of San Jose’s Redevelopment Agency.
3. Berkeley, CA: Another Bay Area city? Yep, UC Berkeley just landed a $500 million grant from British Petroleum, with additional funding from the state of California, so the Biosciences Energy Institute can become “the biofuels capital of the universe,” according to a managing scientist with institute partner Lawrence Berkeley Labs. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is another partner.
4. Pasadena, CA: Pasadena’s Entretec is working with a network of investors and partners such as the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and potentially with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs. The organization offers support to start-ups while providing introductions, events and pitch opportunities.
5. Greater Boston: The Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust takes money from utility bills and redirects it into start-ups and advanced-stage cleantech companies. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, meanwhile, is ramping up its cluster of start-ups with cleantech related business plan contests, networking events and is expected to announce an incubator in March.
For the best in cleantech news, we recommend our friend Joel Makower who just blogged on our ranking, as well as the Cleantech Venture Network’s blog, which has a more government policy-oriented slant to it than some of the others that just report on which companies got how much VC funding. Tyler Hamilton, for instance, had a nice little piece recently about new technologies being developed to help cities implement congestion pricing, which is now the rage of Europe, thanks to London’s example.