Earlier this week, I joined over 600 climate champions at the Cleantech Group’s Cleantech Forum North America — a vibrant event with a critical purpose: connecting sustainability leaders and investors with the continent’s top cleantech innovators to supercharge the path to net zero.
Over the course of the event, the energy was palpable and the collective commitment to addressing key priorities in the cleantech sector was clear. Crucial conversations centred around energy systems, with a particular focus on advancements in batteries, hydrogen, and carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). Agriculture and food security, as well as the critical issue of water management were also highlighted as attendees delved into innovative solutions to propel these sectors forward.
Across all sessions and conversations, the event illuminated the key challenges and opportunities for cleantech in North America and provided a roadmap for navigating our collective path to net zero.
Concerns: Facing Challenges Head-On
Alongside the positive energy and innovative spirit, attendees openly acknowledged the challenges ahead. Key concerns facing all sectors and regions were highlighted:
- The pace at which government and industry are adopting critical cleantech solutions is too slow. We have an abundance of game-changing cleantech solutions being developed, but we need more policies and frameworks in place to support the large-scale adoption.
- Global political climates are in flux. With over 50 important elections looming, there is an added layer of uncertainty regarding the prioritization of climate policies across the globe.
- Capital timelines and strategic investments currently prioritize the top 30 per cent of investees, causing delays in the progress of newer companies.
- Uncertainty across the funding landscape, could halt momentum and delay progress for emerging cleantech ventures, especially for scaling companies in Series A-C.
Opportunities: Charting a Course for Growth
Amidst these challenges, opportunities shone through:
- Multinational enterprises (MNEs) displayed a more focused and decisive approach, providing defined roadmaps and financial investments.
- The influx of new faces, including better representation from crucial investor groups and stakeholders such as insurance companies, injected fresh perspectives into discussions.
- The call for a balance between niche actions and honest macroeconomic reflections resonated, creating an environment where both detailed, specialized approaches and broader economic considerations were given due attention.
- A robust presence of both companies seeking capital and investors, left attendees hopeful about the potential capital deployment resulting from the event.
Frequency: More Opportunities for Collaborating with Intent on Climate Action
The prevailing sentiment was a desire for more frequent engagements, with a collective acknowledgment that nothing can replace the value of face-to-face interactions. Participants expressed the need for continued forums to sustain the momentum, foster collaboration, and drive the cleantech agenda forward.
The Cleantech Forum North America 2024 was a melting pot of positivity, challenges, and opportunities. As the industry grapples with concerns, it also embraces the potential for innovative solutions, collaboration, and sustained growth.
The hope is that these dynamic conversations will not be a one-time event but a catalyst for ongoing engagement, ensuring that the cleantech community continues to thrive and evolve.