Cleantech is becoming more important in Northern Europe, with an increase of investments in the region, and there’s a growing interest from politics and private households. Time to evaluate and have a chat with a dedicated Cleantech Fund from the North to hear their take on the situation.
Ewa Grzechnik works as an Analyst at the Sustainable Technologies Fund (STF), a Venture Capitalist Fund based in Stockholm, Sweden. The Fund was established in 2007 and its main investors are Swedish Pension Funds as well as some private investors. The fund is a dedicated Cleantech private equity growth fund. Their Portfolio currently contains seven companies, and STF is looking to add an another company or two to their portfolio.
While currently most of their investments are in Sweden and Norway, because of proximity reasons as Ewa told me, they are looking at Finland for a possible investment. When asked about the differences between Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish companies, Ewa told me that she values the honesty of Finnish entrepreneurs: “Finns are straight forward and honest about their technology, and do not over represent it.” While Sweden seems to be concentrating on bio energy & biogas, in Finland smart materials, carbon nano tubes and coating seem to be the hot sectors with a lot of innovation.
Ewa and STF see the developments in terms of legislation and acceptance of the society of cleantech as very good, only Germany is more forward thinking in her opinion. At the same time Ewa pointed out that the public financing for cleantech in Sweden is not the best, and the support of nuclear energy in the region is taking away attention and money which could go towards sustainable technologies. However, the public support is very positive for cleantech, which is likely connected to the closeness to the nature in the Nordics.
The seven companies in STF’s portfolio are currently doing fine and STF is satisfied with the developments. The more capital intensive companies have been affected slightly by the economic crisis, while others, like Innotech Solar AS and Havgul Clean Energy AS have been doing very well. Talking about potential companies to invest in, Ewa told me STF is most interested in companies in the biogas, heat pumps and recycling & increasing efficiency sectors.
It was a very interesting conversation with Ewa, and her optimistic view about the future of Cleantech in the Nordics should encourage all cleantech entrepreneurs in the region to continue with their ventures. It shows that innovation is blossoming and that public support is growing for the sector.
Photo courtesy of greenvsummit.