Training Clean Energy Capitalists

2/17/11

[Editor's note: This post was co-authored by Peter Rothstein, President of the New England Clean Energy Council.]

Over the next 10 years, over $1.7 trillion will be invested in clean power projects across the globe, according to recent projections from the Pew Charitable Trusts. That estimate is if nothing changes to strengthen our clean energy policies. Under a more aggressive policy scenario, Pew projects global investment of $2.3 trillion in this decade. Clearly, the clean energy industry is poised for tremendous growth.

New England has emerged as an early mover and hotbed of clean energy innovation, and is well positioned to grow into a global leader in this industry. This success is owed in large part to the strength of our universities, which serve as an incubator for tomorrow’s technologies. For the technologies of the future to become the technologies of the present, they must be shepherded into the market by experienced entrepreneurs and executives as innovative as the technologies themselves. There is often a gap, however, between innovative and early-stage clean energy companies and the executives who have both knowledge of the industry and seasoned experience to raise financing, scale the product, and take it to market. Even established clean energy companies and investors cite top-level recruitment for executive positions as an on-going issue.

Our region—and the greater Boston area in particular—is the home for world-leading research institutions and has no shortage of talented, experienced entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. The trick is helping these successful innovators transition from sectors like IT or biotech into clean energy.

To that end, the New England Clean Energy Council (of which one of us is President) has partnered with the Boston University School of Management (of which one of us is Faculty) to offer a certificate program entitled Leading Clean Energy Ventures which offers a deep dive into the technologies and business of clean energy, and which begins this month. To address the lack of repeat entrepreneurs and seasoned executives in the clean energy sector, this program targets successful individuals who are eager to transition into the clean energy sector. We based Leading Clean Energy Ventures on the Clean Energy Council’s signature Fellowship program. Combining the Clean Energy Council’s knowledge of the sector with the world-class faculty and resources of Boston University, we have evolved that novel education model into an effective and timely program.

Clean energy is our future. If our region and our nation hope to capitalize on the massive opportunity represented by clean energy—and to do so in time to save our climate—we must embrace new means of attracting and developing truly innovative clean energy executives and entrepreneurs. In the face of accelerating climate change we simply do not have the luxury of doing it any other way. To fuel a robust New England clean energy economy that can compete with global leaders like China and Europe, we must build a skilled workforce well versed in clean energy. Our aim is to offer a new generation of clean energy capitalists the knowledge and the tools they need to capture a $2.3 trillion opportunity.

Paul McManus is an Executive-in-Residence and Lecturer at the School of Management at Boston University. Follow @

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