The Xconomy Guide to the Northwest’s Cleantech Clusters

3/9/09Follow @gthuang

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while Shepherd’s Flat Wind Farm and InEnTec could dominate in wind and biofuels, respectively. Software and energy storage are under-represented, however. Oregon’s energy-focused venture firms are Nth Power, OVP, and Pivotal Investments Fund.

British Columbia has depth in a number of areas, and is particularly strong in wind, hydro, fuel cells, and energy management. Some of its leaders include Sea Breeze Power, Plutonic Power, Angstrom Power, and Light-Based Technologies. But expertise in software and solar seems to be lacking. Its cleantech venture firms are Chrysalix Energy, Pangaea Ventures, and Yaletown Venture Partners.

So what does it all mean? We’re still working on different ways to slice it, but see below for the complete breakdown of companies by geography and technology focus area. (Venture firms and utility companies with an alternative energy focus are tallied up here, but nonprofits and consulting firms are not.)

Looking at the variety of approaches represented here, I’m reminded of something Nathan Myhrvold of Bellevue, WA-based Intellectual Ventures (which has a nuclear reactor project) told me. On energy innovation, he said, “My recommendation to the world is, fund 100 really cool new carbon-free energy sources, and fund some that have some diversity—not 100 people trying to do photovoltaics…If you really want to stimulate new energy ideas, you need to find a way to get ideas stimulated at a grass-roots level from lots of folks.”

These cleantech clusters would seem to be a good start.

Washington (83 organizations)
Other energy (nuclear, water, geothermal, biomass)—6
Management/Smart grid—11
Alternative fuels/Biofuels—17
Fuel cells—3
VC and angel organizations—3

Oregon (36 organizations)
Other energy (nuclear, geothermal, thermoelectric)—5
Management/Smart grid—3
Alternative fuels/Biofuels—6
Fuel cells—1
VC firms—3

British Columbia (41 organizations)
Other energy (geothermal, hydro, water)—8
Management/smart grid—3
Alternative fuels/biofuels—4
Fuel cells—5
VC firms—3

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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