Living in California, more specifically in the San Francisco Bay Area, we tend to forget how privileged we are to have the ability to experiment firsthand with new technologies - from the Internet to PDAs to social networks. Beyond computing technologies, California is also becoming the epicenter of green technology innovations.
Last week, Horn Group attended West Coast Green, one of the leading events for green technology. The event brought together professionals, researchers and visionaries from diverse fields including technology, architecture, government, energy, higher education and nonprofit. The event kicked-off with keynotes from Van Jones, senior fellow of the Center for American Progress, and William McDonough, a world-renowned architect and designer and the co-author of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.
Among all the information that was shared with a very attentive and passionate crowd, here are some of the key takeaways:
- So far, California has received approximately $10 billion in green technology investments
- There are still many political and economical challenges associated with green technology, but there is no doubt that these technologies will represent the next wave of innovations in the country, profoundly impacting America’s economy.
- The likelihood of reducing carbon footprints to zero has been called into question and the focus has shifted to developing effective ways to re-use natural resources and avoid carbon creation
- By aggregating millions of small contributions we can drive a significant change in CO2 output
- Countries abroad have developed leading edge projects in green technology and there is a widespread belief that the U.S. needs to move fast to be on the forefront of innovation
At the conference, three areas of green technology were particularly well-represented: solar energy, electric cars (check out Better Place's electric taxi), and smart grid development (residential and commercial).
On that note, Horn Group attended a great session called, “Home Energy Management – The Smart Home of the Future” with panelists from Intel, BestBuy, Tendril and PG&E that focused on the smart grid. What we learned from these industry insiders is that the smart grid is a huge umbrella under which many other technologies fall, including power generation and power management technologies. We also learned just how complex power management is today – and how many different constituents and stakeholders are involved in the process including utilities, standards boards, corporations and consumers. Interestingly, the panelists noted that consumers are driving real changes in energy management-- a paradigm shift as consumers are given more control over how they consume energy.
During the discussion we were impressed by how the individual speakers representing seemingly divergent corporate interests came together and agreed that in order to tackle the smart grid dilemma, we need to work together. A major takeaway from the conversation was that in order to develop a smarter grid, we need to maintain open standards and develop and implement technologies that leave room for continuous improvement and evolution.
As mentioned earlier, the conference showed us that many of the green technologies today are still being developed and improved and are in the early adoption phase. The smart grid may not be completely figured out in two years, but by establishing new technologies and instituting new processes that can grow and evolve as consumers’ needs change, we will be in a better place than we are now.
What is so revolutionary about the green movement is that it is being driven by technology – our area of specialty at Horn Group. We are a team of professionals interested in startups just like those exhibiting and speaking at West Coast Green. We have experience in priming startups for acquisitions and IPOs, and we’re excited to see what we can do for today’s green technology startups.
We’re jazzed about what the future holds for green technology and how it can propel the U.S. economy. We are hopeful that green technology startups will bring the “Next Wave of IPOs.”
We’re looking forward to next year’s show and to upcoming green events!
If you want to learn more about the conference and what attendees and exhibitors were saying on Twitter check out: #wcg10.