Interesting cleantech investment trends of 2013

We at Acuity love our cleantech, demonstrated by some sale success over the past few years, including the $10.8 million investment in Sefaira by Braemar Energy-led consortium. Sefaira specialised in cloud-based green building design and analysis software, and this market continued to expand in 2013 as demand for green big data infrastructure continued. The energy efficiency segment led by both invested total and deal volume in 2013, with $1.3 billion (20% percent of total investments in cleantech for the year) invested across 188 deals, according to i3 market intelligence platform.

The transportation segment came second behind energy efficiency, raising a total of $1.2 billion as firms including Ubet, DiDi, Taxi and Lyft moved into the market to look for interesting acquisitions. This segment seems especially popular among smartphone-based firms and web specialists. Transportation saw a total of 121 deals in 2013, which was up by 17% on 2012.

A sector that seems to have lost a little of its gloss was solar, which despite being the third biggest by total deals and volume ($719 million and 92 deals) saw a decline of 13% in fiscal terms and a fall of 8% in total deals. Losing interest is perhaps indicative of the failed implementation of solar across global markets, and buyers are increasingly unconvinced by the segment’s potential as a future or present energy alternative. Business transfer agents are increasingly finding it harder to find buyers for innovative solar start-ups. A major technology trend or innovation would have to occur to stem the growing disinterest in solar among venture capitalists, corporate financiers and major digital giants.

Biofuels continues to be a growing segment, seeing deals at a valuation of $584 million in 2013, followed by recycling and waste at $371 million. Some of the trailing segments included advanced materials, agriculture and water.

When broken down geographically, preferences by region seemed to indicate varying interest in specific segments. For example, in Europe energy efficiency deals were the most dominant form of acquisition activity, led by companies including Crocus Technology, Hailo and Moovit. By contrast, in the Asia Pacific region, transportation was the most common segment for cleantech transactions, as Chinese and India led activity in the region. North America gave preference to energy efficiency and this region was also, unsurprisingly considering its pioneering cleantech profile, made up the largest proportion of total cleantech deals in 2013. A wealth of corporate financing and strong links between Sillicon Valley and various business transfer agents help stimulate a still relatively healthy regional cleantech sales environment. M&A activity in cleantech amounted to 83 deals in 2013, which was up 12% on 2012.

Acuity has considerable expertise in cleantech and we hope to be a major part of any transactions in the segment in 2014.

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