Commitment Stage

In 2000 the VC market reaches its peak year with 16,279 deals at a volume of $163.2 billion. Approximately 0.8% of the total deal volume went to 193 cleantech deals, totalling $1.2 billion. This investment represents a significant rise in absolute terms and as well as in average deal size. Media attention hovers around 1.8% of cleantech articles. After the Dotcom crash, the total VC market drops to $ 42.9 billion invested in 8516 deals in 2003. However, Cleantech investments drop not nearly as much with $916 million invested in 232 deals. This investment represented 2.1% of all money invested and an increase relative to other years. The media attention for cleantech rose to 2.6% as well.

Recycling remains an important media topic. Water and Ecology lose their importance while solar as a media topic increases to 18% as it wins economic importance at the same time. During this phase wind is mentioned significantly more often starting in 2001 but still only reaches maximal 5% of the attention in 2003. Energy storage especially fuel cells are an important topic of the early 2000s which shows through higher media attention of around 10 to 15%. Attention towards other renewables raises to around 20% or higher.

These investments reflect increasing commitment to cleantech. In the earliest years of the commitment stage the VC market reached levels never seen before in terms of money invested and average valuations. The positive environment for VC investments promoted growth in nearly every part of the industry. Cleantech deals were happening more frequently even though they were not yet called cleantech or even grouped into a category. Well regarded VCs like Venrock Associates, 3i Group and Draper Fisher Jurvetson made their initial investments in what would later be categorized as cleantech in 2001/2002. Early dedicated funds like the SAM Private Equity Energy Fund closed in 2000, while SAIL Capital Partners closed their first fund in 2002. At the same time technological breakthroughs happen in the renewable energy and fuel cell industry which steer attention towards the possibilities in the category. Entrepreneurial activity is also rising with startups that become role models for getting funded in that period. Tesla Motors for example, which was incorporated in July 2003 was later financed with several hundred million dollars of VC money before it went public. These facts demonstrate that cleantech had become viewed as a clear market opportunity.

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