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New Investment Tracker: EU Cleantech Investments Shatter Records; €7 Billion Invested in First Half of This Year

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Cleantech for Europe, a new initiative created by Cleantech Group, supported by Breakthrough Energy, today presented its first ‘EU Quarterly Cleantech Briefing’. The analysis finds that in the first half of this year more than €7 billion of venture capital was invested in cleantech innovation in the European Union (EU). With six months remaining in 2021, this figure has already beaten the previous annual record for Europe, set just last year at €4.7 billion.

In view of this momentum, Cleantech for Europe will bring together top cleantech leaders from VCs, startups, academia, and civil society to build much-needed bridges with policymakers in Brussels and other European capitals. In a first instance, six leading cleantech venture capital firms, regarded as pioneers in financing innovative low-carbon companies, are joining the initiative. Other communities from start-ups, scale-ups, academia and civil society will join the initiative over time to build a future-oriented, technology-savvy group of cleantech leaders from across the EU.

The six “Cleantech for Europe Leaders” are: Beamline Accelerator (Estonia), btov Industrial Tech Fund (Germany), Inven Capital (Czech Republic), Munich Venture Partners (Germany), Rockstart (Netherlands), and SET Ventures (Netherlands). Combined, these firms have invested in more than 150 innovative low-carbon start-ups and scale-ups, including global leaders such as Sonnen in batteries and Sunfire in hydrogen production. For the first time, these firms are coming together to build a collective voice and convey to policymakers and other stakeholders the importance of investing in the next generation of clean technologies.

Despite the fact that EU cleantech investments are booming compared to previous years, the EU Quarterly Cleantech Briefing notes they may still fall short of what is needed to ensure EU start-ups can scale up across the continent. In the past decade, EU companies seeking to scale have often turned toward Asia or North America for larger markets, more abundant funding and ambitious public policies that accelerate their adoption.

“This analysis illustrates the extraordinary progress of the EU’s cleantech ecosystem – and the mountain of urgent work that lies ahead, particularly around helping build an EU policy framework that prioritizes and supports cleantech innovation.” said Ann Mettler, Vice President Europe at Breakthrough Energy, an organization founded by Bill Gates to support the innovations that will lead the world to net-zero emissions.

The release of the investment tracker and the announcement of the Cleantech for Europe initiative come just days before the EU prepares to unveil its highly anticipated “Fit for 55” package of climate legislation, and as most EU member states are finalizing Covid economic recovery plans that the European Commission has stipulated must include strong climate- and clean energy-related components.

The analysis also found: increasing numbers of late-stage deals; major deals of €300 million or more in industries including batteries, electric mobility, shared mobility and the circular economy; and a sharp uptick in the number of deals in the materials and chemicals sector. Sign up for future quarterly briefings here.

The involvement of top venture capital firms in the Cleantech for Europe initiative underscores how important policy is to the success of cleantech innovation.

“The goal of the new initiative is to place cleantech innovation at the center of EU public policy debates in the coming weeks, months and years,” said Jules Besnainou, director at Cleantech Group, a research and consulting company that is helping organize the new group and author the quarterly briefings. “We want the bloc to capitalize on opportunities to build and expand clean industries, ensure a just transition, and mount a stronger response to a climate crisis which grows more urgent by the day.”

“The regulatory framework is critical for success in cleantech. We see it in hydrogen: strong policy moves result in market uptake.” addedIvo Němejc, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, Inven Capital

“It is still very hard for EU cleantech start-ups to scale beyond their national borders. If we want to lead the race to net zero, we need to start building continental champions.” said Martin Kröner, Managing Partner, Munich Venture Partners

“The energy transition is a systemic challenge, but also an opportunity for the EU to lead the world on climate innovation while creating high-quality jobs.” added René Savelsberg, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, SET Ventures

“To reach climate leadership, we must improve the funding cycle for EU cleantech. The time to act is now.” said Christian Reitberger, Partner, btov Industrial Tech Fund

“Our success in Estonia proves that efficient cooperation between policy-makers and cleantech leaders is in fact a must for sustainable innovation development.” added Erki Ani, CEO, Beamline Accelerator

Additional venture capital firms are expected to join the group in the coming months.

Specifically, the Cleantech for Europe initiative calls on the EU to:

  • Create a demand shock for green solutions. Create sectoral transition plans. Implement a predictable and progressive price on carbon. Accelerate green public procurement.
  • Support the creation of at least 10 EU scale-up funds. Increase non-dilutive funding. Leverage public-private instruments such as carbon contracts for difference.
  • Support cross-border scaling. Harmonize regulations and standards to allow innovative companies scale from one country to the continent. Develop integrated value chains across all member states.

In unveiling the investment tracker, Cleantech for Europe also announced that it will hold an inaugural Cleantech for Europe Summit on September 8, featuring key leaders from Europe’s venture capital and policy communities. The Summit will be opened by Pascal Canfin, MEP and Chair of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety at the European Parliament. To participate in the Summit, sign up here.

To set up interviews with European venture capitalists and innovators active in the cleantech space, and policy experts, or to get more of the backstory on how and why the Cleantech for Europe initiative was conceived, please contact Jules Besnainou at hello@cleantechforeurope.com

About Cleantech for Europe
Cleantech for Europe is an initiative created by Cleantech Group, supported by Breakthrough Energy and leading EU cleantech investors. Our mission is to help the EU lead the race to net zero while creating long-term industrial competitiveness. We aim to put innovation at the center of the public policy debate and build bridges between the EU’s cleantech community and policymakers in Brussels and member states.

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Contact information

Press contact:
Jules Besnainou, hello@cleantechforeurope.com

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