Clean Technology AustralAsia recently held 2nd AustralAsian Cleantech Finance and Investment Forum in Melbourne in August with the theme of “Building AustralAsia’s Cleantech Future”. In the following posting I’ve captured some of the discussion, learnings and outcomes of the event. There’s also a full summary of the event including quotations and detailed highlights of each of the speakers presentations available from the cleantechforum.com website, which is well worth spending the time to read.
This second successful AustralAsian Cleantech Forum attracted 170 delegates and explored how to position the AustralAsian Cleantech Network of investors and companies to capitalise on the national and global market demand for clean technology solutions for sustainable development.
Importantly, there was significant representation from the finance sector and capital markets including Superfunds, project financiers, fund managers, venture capitalists, stock brokers etc. This ability to attract and involve the mix of providers of capital providers, technology entrepreneurs, public and private companies and project developers has been universally applauded by sponsors, delegates and speakers, including GP’s and LP’s. Also attending were key decision makers from government, academia, research, and professional services sectors.
Participants acknowledged that Cleantech in Australia is growing at an accelerated rate with many innovative early stage clean technologies in the pipeline, new Cleantech Venture funds and the increasing interest from institutional investors. The Cleantech Forum was hailed a great success as the premier platform for Building Australasia’s Cleantech Future.
Attendees had the opportunity to hear from keynote speaker Bryan Martel, Managing Partner, Environmental Capital Group from California and his experience as the environmental investment advisor to CalPERS and the importance of both environment and financial returns as a part of fiduciary responsibility and corporate governance.
Emerging from the overall dialogue at the Cleantech Forum it was acknowledge that clean technological solutions provide a means to achieve sustainable outcomes that generate both financial returns and environmental net gains thus fostering growth and reducing risks such as climate change.
In Australia we are starting to see a real shift in attitude as we head into possibly one of the hottest and driest summers expected on record, and this is being reflected significantly in our politics at the moment and getting quite a bit of press coverage. Nuclear power is also back on the table from the government, with the opposition now promoting renewable technology as the preferred option.
The 2nd AustralAsian Cleantech Finance & Investment Forum progressed through four sessions:
- Global Market Opportunities and Drivers for Clean Technology Investing
- Clean Technologies – Companies Leading the Charge
- Cleantech Funds – The Investment Value Proposition
- Why a “Perfect Storm” is brewing for AustralAsian Cleantech.
I’ve captured a few of the highlights, for more details chase them down in the full summary:
- Clean technological solutions were identified to underpin the initiatives of the six countries involved in the Asia Pacific Partnership on Climate and Development, particularly those to address global climate change.
- The Australian government is taking action through investment in projects endorsed through on the AP6 and Australia’s involvement on the Renewable Energy and Distributed Generation and through Cleaner Fossil Fuel Task Forces.
- Clean technologies were identified to be an essential part of the solution for sustainable development in these surging economies such as India, as is an enabling framework that includes regulation, incentives and market based instruments such as a carbon trading scheme or tax.
- In Australia there is a critical mass of innovative clean technologies available in sectors like water management & purification, clean coal, green buildings and in the service industry and that the market place is evolving to take up these technologies in Asia.
- Though, saying this for the first time we saw Australian venture capital funds present and brand themselves as dedicated Australian Cleantech Funds. There is a building understanding by fund executives and managers of the value and potential growth of clean technology companies that may be incorporated into a private equity investment portfolio. However, generally Australian VC investors and fund advisors lack understanding of the Cleantech investment opportunity.
- Cleantech was described as being important to Australia’s industry superfund’s since they realize investments in Cleantech are needed to ensure a sustainable long term future for society and the ecosystem. There is also a belief that over the coming 50 years a significant amount of water and energy infrastructure will be required in Australia.
- Similarly, the potential to achieve investment returns for institutional investors were clearly articulated with investments in social, economic and environmental infrastructure. An important point was made concerning the fiduciary duty of trustees to address environmental risks. Funds with a portfolio of clean technologies were identified as being integral to addressing long term financial and environmental risks such as climate change.
- A healthy tension was evident as speakers presented differing views on the current climate being suitable for a dedicated Cleantech VC fund or a general VC technology fund. However, there was agreement that Australian capital will be deployed both nationally and internationally in Cleantech.
- Although early days, fund managers presently making Cleantech investments indicated that Cleantech represents sound investment and an excellent growth prospect for the future. In the coming years it is anticipated that Cleantech investments for sustainability issues will move from boutique to core equity analysis.
- Australia’s leading brokerage firm highlighted some of the merits of specializing in Cleantech companies and the importance of a dedicated Cleantech research analyst with information to make sound investment decisions in Australian public and private Cleantech companies.
- There is an increasing interest from the banks financing sustainable development projects. In this regard, Cleantech infrastructure and energy projects were highlighted as areas of potential new debt financing.
Plans are already underway for the 3rd AustralAsian Cleantech Finance and Investment Forum in August 2007. The Cleantech Forum will continue to expand as the event is recognised as the premier Cleantech Forum in AustralAsia scheduled to be held every year as a must attend event on the international calendar.
To give you a little more early information on the 2007 program, It will be expanded into a two day event and will for the first time include industry sector sessions where companies can pitch to investors to raise capital and present the market and investment rational of their products. There will also be international funds presenting to the “capital rich” Aussie LP’s and superfunds. Based on the success of the last two years, we expect the AustralAsian Cleantech Forum in 2007 to continue to grow in popularity, attracting a national and international speakers, a high-level audience and business delegations.
For those readers that would like to be involved in the Australasian Cleantech Forum 2007 program please feel free contact us.
Nick Bruse is the General Manager of Clean Technology AustralAsia Pty Ltd; the organiser of the AustralAsian Cleantech Forums, and the leading advocate of Cleantech in Australia. Clean Technology AustralAsia was established in 2004 with the mission to build and service the AustralAsian Cleantech Network of companies and investors and position them for success in local, national and international markets.