It is hard for many to relate to melting snow caps or sea level rise, but when you show the U.S. regions with 120 degrees Fahrenheit that experience drought multiple years in a row - we witness the challenges in these geographical areas. Then, impacts of the warming planet and climate change become clear. Henry Paulson Jr. said at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco today, that realistically, no matter what we do, there will be damaging outcomes. Doom and gloom might not manifest to the extent that some experts estimate, however the discussion needs to focus on lessening climate impacts, how to tackle the big issues and address the most impairing scenarios, while reducing economic implications. The honorable Henry Paulson is the chairman of The Paulson Institute; former Secretary of the Treasury U.S. Government, and CEO of Goldman Sachs.
The attitude toward sustainability has become more welcoming in both established and emerging markets. Today, corporations tie sustainability to business performance and to business drivers. Global energy and resource challenges have never been bigger, and the stakes are clear. Leading businesses are exploring how environmental innovation can help drive future profitability and foster resiliency.
The Cleantech Forum 2013 (held by The Cleantech Group - see more information below) focused on "Sustainability Meets Innovation: Reigniting Cleantech". Sustainability leaders and clean technology innovators talked about the need to provide economically viable solutions while reducing environmental impacts. This message is not new. The difference now is that businesses focus on three key indicators: becoming more resilient, more efficient and more intelligent.
Overall, investment in the Cleantech space has been in late stage, with few early and seed funding. Commercializing the innovations is still a hurdle on a global basis, where some regions are more challenging than others. For example, waste in developing countries is a public health issue. Most lack the infrastructure and have poor operation logistics, hindering the ability and means to collect, process and manage waste streams. Investment in waste innovations hasn't been different than any other environmental sector.
At the same time, regulatory changes affect entrepreneurs and innovators. As of March 16, 2013 the U.S. patent law has changed from a first-to-invent system to a first-to-file model. Before that, the former first-to-invent system granted the first person to invent the patent rights. Under the new first-inventor-to-file (FITF), patent rights are granted to the first inventor that files a patent application in the U.S., regardless of who was the first inventor. Therefore, applications or patents that contain a claimed invention with an effective filing date on or after March 16, 2013, will be under FITF.
The U.S.'s change to first-inventor-to-file (FITF) is part of the America Invents Act of 2011 (signed by President Obama in September 2011). Read more by clicking here. The law stirred up a flurry of legal activity, where many companies, inventors, start ups, and entrepreneurs rushed to file. From this week and on, inventors need to file first their intellectual property (IP) intricacies to take advantage of their ideas. While bigger corporations have more financial flexibility to invest in IP, start-ups or small companies, that are cash-strapped, may find it challenging to budget patents' fees up-front. The average cost of filing a software patent is over $ 10 K. Technology patents may run from $ 7 K or $ 8 K and up, depending on complexity. The more complex an invention, the longer the attorneys need to spend resources on researching related patents, writing up a detailed description and outlining what the patent protects. The new law is definitely a good policy for law firms...
What hasn't changed in U.S. patent law? The provisional phase for U.S. filings is still valid, where companies have one year to complete the comprehensive process. This U.S. special rule will help inventors in many cases. Disclosing invention ideas at a conference or a panel, gives entrepreneurs a one year grace period to file a patent. Although such disclosure is protected in the U.S., there is a chance for harm since others may be able to file these patents in other countries.
As we move toward sustainable urbanism, innovations will center on providing economically viable solutions while reducing environmental impact. The themes of the conference - sustainability, innovation, and reigniting Cleantech - were pointing to more intelligent, more economic, and more efficient solutions. Hopefully, these three notions are not the new buzz terms...
Resources for start-ups and entrepreneurs. The following organizations offer grants, prizes and funds for sustainable and Cleantech innovators. You can apply to:
1. The Westly Group announced this week a $160 million Cleantech fund. In 2011, the firm’s fund was for $127 million. Some of the Westly Group’s portfolio companies are Tesla (Electric Vehicle (EV)), Amyris (biofuels) and China Recycling Energy Corporation (CREG). Click here to read the announcement.
3. Zayed Future Energy Prize offers $ 4 M For Cleantech and sustainable business Ideas in several categories Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Innovation, Policy, and Sustainable Development. Check http://blog.zayedfutureenergyprize.com/?p=59
The Cleantech Group is a global company that conducts research, organizes events and offers advisory services accelerate market adoption, stimulate demand, and remove barriers to cleantech innovation. It offers the i3 Platform - a comprehensive and current information across the clean technology ecosystem.