Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I just returned from the two day cleantech conference in Melbourne entitled the "4th AustralAsian Cleantech Forum" (http://www.cleantechforum.com/).
My co-worker Ivor and I had the opportunity to check in with a number of people we hadn't spoken with in a while. The conference is showing tremendous growth over last year, and last year's event was pretty decent. It was good to run into a number of familiar faces - this is giving me confidence that I'm seeing more and more of the players in Australia's cleantech community. As well, 14 companies pitched to the group - 7 either in Seed or Series A stage, and 7 in Series B stage (or later, as some of the companies had already gone public).
The companies showcased an interesting mix of technology. There were two ocean power companies, a high-performance diesel engine, biodegradable plastics, some water recycling companies, a couple of concentrating solar technologies, and some clean coal companies. All in all, a pretty diverse mix, and hopefully an impressive preview of the further improving dealflow happening in Australia.
In addition to the company showcase, there were several presentations and panel discussions. Premier John Brumby opened the conference. It was good to see him there as he is a big supporter of the cleantech opportunity and the benefits it can provide to the state of Victoria. Several US LPs were there, including representatives of CalPERS and Pacific Corporate Group Asset Management. There is growing interested by US investors in the Asian cleantech space, and I think many of them are realizing (as is our thesis) that Australia, as an English-speaking country with a British-based legal system is a great launching point to Asia.
Also of interest is the greater role that India is playing within this forum. Jeffrey and Peter Castellas, the founders of Cleantech AustralAsia have put together a good team to link opportunities, both for investment, and for companies entering the Indian market, between India and Australia. This is a great move. Every VC understands that tapping into the Indian and Chinese market is incredibly valuable for a growing company, and yet both markets can be very challenging. By leveraging the connections between Australia and India, this market entry can be made easier.
All in all it was a great event.