Home Geography Accelerating Green Innovation: Essays on Alternative Investments in Clean Technologies
This paper uses a case narrative on two clean technology industries to observe the industry development through the lenses of the actors finance, innovation, and policy. The clean technology industries “solar energy” and “fuel cell” developed over the last decades and have reached a certain level of technology, as well as, market maturity. Solar energy is a more mature industry even as media attention and VC investment activity started later and peaked later. New innovations continue to emerge from these industries, but additional barriers in the development process have to be surpassed. The most important actors in media development of these industries prove to be finance and regulation with innovation lagging behind. This paper sheds light on the need for a comparative analysis of these actors and depicts their role for industry development and the transition towards a more sustainable economy (Markard et al., 2012; A. Smith et al., 2010).
Green innovation peculiarities lead to the demand of a re-assessment of technological change and industry development. Contrasting to previous research the results of this paper show that the role of readiness for financial market is important for investments and the growth of an industry. Entrepreneurship, which most often is mentioned as a prerequisite for the emergence of an industry and in the earliest phases of company formation, plays a less important role in the eye of the media. The attention towards this topic grows in later phases of industry development. More important in earlier phases are technological and innovation themes. This late entry of entrepreneurship is possibly different than in other industries, like web or software, which are driven by human capital and less so by technology. The two regarded industries do not only show green innovation specifics, but also prove to be different. Solar energy as part of the power sector shows a very high importance of regulatory topics compared to the fuel cell industry (Audretsch, 1995; Dosi, 1990; Florida & Kenney, 1988b; Soskice, 1997).
This paper has, as all research does, some empirical and methodological limitations. It uses a regional subset of the industries, and given the focus on US examples lacks some important regions of development. In solar energy especially Germany and China play an important role in shaping the market place, while in the fuel cell industry some European and Canadian firms have been drivers of the development. The quantitative content analysis can be inattentive to the broader meaning of the textual information and relies on the credibility of the dictionary which can be addressed through internal consistency (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005). Importance and interactions of finance, innovation and policy as drivers for industry development need further research. A more quantified approach could help to explain the role of these topics in more detail.
Key implications for policy makers and managers are that the rightly adjusted attention towards topics at the right point in life-cycle development helps to understand the growth trajectories of an industry. Thus, observing media is a possible way to recognize industry maturity and possible legitimacy of technologies. Market entry decisions, expansion plans from entrepreneurs and managers can be based on these results. An effect of media attention on policy measures or investment decisions might occur, but through this industry level approach not all possibilities are provable. Still, establishing a supporting regulatory framework earlier in the development could lead to lower barriers for financing new technologies.
Future research could build on this methodology and compare further industries. Contrasting industries with more differences than the clean technology industries considered here could show more variety in the role of the actors for industry development.
The goal of this dissertation was to explore examples of alternative investments in the field of clean technologies. It considers venture capital, private equity, and infrastructure asset classes and a broad range of green industries, as well as, suitable policy approaches to accelerate green innovation. Four studies address the field with different methodological approaches and from different viewpoints. This chapter summarizes the findings and implications across all studies and presents a concise synopsis:
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