CleanTech – a sector too risky for Swedish venture capital (Management Project)

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CleanTech is the sector where technologies intended to reduce the harmful effect that our current lifestyle has on the environment are found. In Sweden the companies developing these technologies has not yet managed to get their deserved part of Swedish venture capital. A number of venture capitalists do invest in CleanTech, however the majority is hesitant.

The hesitation is to a large extent said to be born in the many risks associated to a CleanTech investment. This study attempts to address this issue by describing and analyzing how venture capitalists reduce risks when investing in a CleanTech company. An abductive approach has been used to conduct the study, mainly based on primary, qualitative data. The data was gathered through six face-to-face interviews with Swedish venture capitalists active within the CleanTech sector.

The different risks expected to be found in a CleanTech investment are first presented grouped into three broad risks groups; Agency risk, Business risk and Innovation risk. This is followed by a framework covering methods and tools that can be applied by venture capitalists in an attempt to reduce risks in their investments. These being; Convertible equity, Syndication, Information system, Monitoring, Milestones, Bonding, Share options, Stage financing and Intellectual property rights.

The respondents do not view the risks associated to CleanTech as high as generally perceived. They acknowledge that the risks exists but not to any larger extent than in any other investment. When reducing risk in their investment the respondents make use of commonly known and generally used methods and tools.

These are not deliberately chosen in order to reduce a specific risk but rather to safeguard the investment as a whole. It is not just the tools in themselves that leads to a successful reduction of risk, but rather when combined with the respondent’s as well as the entrepreneurs skills and experiences.
Source: Jönköping University
Author: Adestam, Carina | Gunnmo, Sofia | Hedberg, Anne

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