Clean energy startups face challenges that software startups don’t.
The National Venture Capital Association found that in 2006, U.S. venture capital firms invested roughly $1.7 billion in clean tech.
An MIT working paper published in 2016 argues that conditions in the early aughts – clean energy legislation, the rising cost of gas, an increasing awareness of climate change thanks to Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” and Tesla’s arrival on the market – made clean energy seem like a win for investors.
The report authors found that “Venture capital firms spent over $25 billion funding clean energy technology startups from 2006 to 2011 and lost over half their money.” Clean energy companies tied up capital and were expensive to scale, the authors say.
Bill Gates launched a multi-billion dollar clean energy fund in 2015 called the Breakthrough Energy Coalition.
The mission: private companies develop clean energy “Breakthroughs,” and the government invests in the research.
Opus 12 owes a lot to one government initiative, Cyclotron Road, an incubation program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that is backed by the Department of Energy.