Impact Meets Cleantech at the Crossroads
by Tom Holland, CEO and founder of Maximpact.com
Impact investing and the cleantech sector are both at a crossroads.
For impact, the outlook is positive. We’re expanding, entering the mainstream and becoming a widely accepted approach to doing business and doing good. The recent Impact G8 in London is one measure of how far impact has come in just a few short years. The sector is growing at a fast rate and new players are getting involved every day. Maximpact’s portal reflects this movement. It now hosts more deals and a wider variety of deals than ever before and we look forward to continuing to grow with the sector.
The story is different for cleantech. Despite amazing success over recent years that sector is facing a much tougher financial landscape. Investment is down, capital is harder to come by. There are bright spots, like the success of Tesla. Yet many cleantech companies are finding it necessary to retrench or change tack. Some are going out of business. Many more are looking for new markets and new sources of finance.
At Maximpact, we’re in two minds about this change of fortune. On the one hand, we don’t like it because we think cleantech holds the key to a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable future for the whole planet. They’re coming up with solutions to problems we share and showing the kind of creativity that should have us all excited. Renewable energy, biomimicry, 3D printing: these things are going to reshape industries, revolutionize business models and change the way we live our lives for the better. We don’t want to see cleantech’s progress slowed or stopped by financial fluctuations.
On the other hand, the sobering of the cleantech market presents opportunities for impact and sustainability investors. This, we like.
“At Maximpact we think cleantech holds the key to a cleaner, healthier and a more sustainable future for the whole planet.” Tom Holland
From the beginning, Maximpact was designed around a broad definition of impact that specifically included cleantech, eco and green. The idea was to bring cleantech, eco and green together with other sectors including philanthropy, venture philanthropy and CSR. The aim was to break down silos and encourage collaboration and investment across sectors to accelerate the pace of change.
Maximpact was always intended to be a hub for aggregating and finding new applications for technology. We intentionally made the platform transparent so users can observe how others are applying technologies to solve problems. This allows people to see what technologies are available out there. It gives them the opportunity to find ones they can adapt for their own uses and deploy them in different parts of the world, multiplying the force of their impact.
Given the situation of the sector today, I believe that is the perfect time for investors to get behind cleantech. They should do this for several reasons:
- The first is purely financial. Despite the cooling of the market, many clean tech companies are promising from a business standpoint. They’ve proven they can scale and there’s evidence that they will continue to gain ground in the mainstream of business. It’s certain that well chosen clean tech investments can help impact investors meet their goal of achieving a sustainable financial return.
- The second reason is altruistic: clean technologies have the potential to bring a better life and a cleaner environment to all of us. Clean tech’s products have applications in every country and at every social level from the bottom of the pyramid to the top. Cleantech also helps emerging economies and regions to start off with the tools that will provide a more sustainable future from day one.
- The benefits clean tech can bring; preserved eco-systems, more efficient use of energy, more sustainable economies; align with the impact ambitions of many investors and are the best reason to get behind clean tech and help the sector grow.
So impact and clean tech meet at the crossroads. Here at Maximpact, we’d like to see them join forces and continue along the same path.