You’d have to be living under a rock to not understand why there’s a rush on cleantech. Yup, the world (apart from a certain someone, looking at you Mr. Trump) is finally waking up to the challenges of climate change and other critical sustainability issues. This is creating an urgency to find clean technology solutions.

A growing number of companies are seizing this chance to change the world. Just look at the Cleantech Group’s Global Cleantech 100 list for 2018. Its winning companies showcase the rocking state of clean technology right now.

Its hot tickets include Proterra, a U.S. developer of zero-emission, battery-powered buses. Kebony, a Norwegian developer and manufacturer of hardwood created by modifying sustainably sourced softwood. Taiwanese Gogoro develops electric scooters and battery swapping infrastructure for their use. And Cleantech Group’s rising star, AeroFarms, is growing leafy greens at high yield densities in urban ‘vertical farms’.

And there’s plenty more where they come from.

The idea was that creating a sustainable world just wasn't competitive.

But how did cleantech companies get here? After all, it was only back in 2014 that 60 Minutes famously called out the poor performance of cleantech. The idea was that creating a sustainable world just wasn't competitive.

The Changing Landscape of Cleantech

But what really happened back then? For sure, Silicon Valley VCs and generous government loans, subsidies and tax breaks took massive hits. Think solar panel producer, Solyndra and $500 million of U.S. federal funding down the drain. First up came the 2008 financial crisis. Then came the tech reality: cleantech doesn’t deliver short-term fortunes. As a result, cleantech became kinda stinky to VCs.

Yet cleantech was not done with. It was simply forced to find new business models and opportunities.

Enter innovation hubs, incubators, and clusters. Across the globe, these organizations have become the key enablers in the cleantech space. In the end, an improved industry has emerged.

And what’s not to like about this? Labs and networks are now available to startups. Consequently, they no longer need to get early investments to create their own. Additionally, the organizations are providing them with professional services that used to be out of reach. Lastly, organizations can pre-vet the startups for future equity deals. Top news for any wary investor.

It Takes an Ecosystem

So what are these Cleantech hubs really? In essence, Cleantech hubs are a mishmash. They're made up of startups, accelerators, incubators, large companies, payment solutions, VC firms, and local authorities. So, different shades of business get to learn from each other, make connections, develop new skills and get inspiration.

But how can these hubs capitalize on this centralized activity? The answer lies in idea management software. In brief, idea management software is technology that lets you capture, develop and prioritize ideas in one digital platform. For instance, the beauty of a digital ideas platform for a cleantech hub includes:

Gathering Point - it gathers all ideas in the one place. In this way, ideas from one industry can be cross-pollinated with ideas from another. Many of the best inventions come about like this.

Steer the Hub - it maps, profiles and displays all parts of the hub. The people, companies, corporate sponsors, universities, resources, and assets. It streamlines the hub’s activities by inviting multiple members and removing members. It exports lists and manages member requests. Overall, it fosters collaboration amongst the hub stakeholders.

Take the U.S. North East Clean Energy Council, a cleantech hub that helps clean energy companies start, scale and succeed. It’s used idea management software to connect entrepreneurs within its hub with resources, people and opportunities.  

Crowdsource Cleantech Innovation automates, coordinates and accelerates tapping into the solutions of the crowd to the world’s problems.

Clusters or hubs can easily manage contests or open innovation. This brings the cause of clean technology and sustainability to the world. And gives the average Joe a chance to contribute to transforming the future.  

Consider The Climate Group’s Earthhack. It sought ideas on how existing technology could be used to reduce CO2 consumption, save water and reduce consumer waste. It used an idea management platform. In the end, it received 249 ideas from 952 participants from over 80 countries.

Final Thoughts

The boom-bust of the late 2000s was a turning point for clean technology. It required a remake and a rebirth.

Cleantech hubs now provide the workspaces, labs, and networks for innovation. Whether it’s drones to solve agricultural challenges. Or IoT solutions for energy infrastructure. Or autonomous and electrified cars. Researchers, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and industry experts can collaborate in one place. Bringing concepts through to products.

And with idea management software, all players in these buzzing ecosystems can share ideas, collaborate, coordinate and streamline activities. And look beyond their communities to crowdsource cleantech innovation.  

Is your cleantech hub looking for an easy way to share ideas and collaborate? Why not give our app a whirl?