Centre for International Environmental Studies
25 October 2018

NRP73 "Financing investments in clean technologies" first partners meeting

Meeting on investments in clean technologies.

The first Partners' meeting of the project "Financing investments in clean technologies" co-led by Joëlle Noailly (CIES) and Gaétan de Rassenfosse (EPFL) took place on Tuesday 16 October at the Villa Moynier, Graduate Institute. This meeting brought together our implementation partners from across seven organisations, representing various groups from policy-making organisations (OECD, GGKP), financial institutions (Jadeberg Partners, Emerald Technology Ventures) and cleantech companies (Switzerland G-E, Cleantech Alps). The participants discussed research progress, as well as practical applications and implementation of the results. The project is financed by the SNF as part of the NRP73, which aims to understand the potential of achieving a "Sustainable Economy" in Switzerland.  

List of participants:
Joëlle Noailly (IHEID), Gaétan de Rassenfosse (EPFL), Laura Nowzohour (IHEID), Matthias van den Heuvel (EPFL), Eric Plan (CleantechAlps), Patrick Ruch (HEG-SIB), Julien Gobeil (HEG-SIB), Maxwell Andersen (IHEID/OECD), Ivan Hascic (OECD), Ben Simmons (GGKP), David Avery (Switzerland G-E), Winfried Weigel (CleanTech Capital),
Apologies:  Charles Vaslet (Emerald Technology Ventures), Jürgen Habichler (Jadeberg Partners), David Lunsford (Carbon Delta).

NRP73 "Financing investments in clean technologies" first partners meeting programme:

Tuesday 16 October 2018, 11:00-15:30, Villa Moynier, Geneva

Presentations and take away from Q&A
10:30–11:00  Arrival / coffee break
11:00–12:00 – Welcome: Presentation of the research project and Round of introduction (chairs: J.Noailly & G. de Rassenfosse)


12:00–13:00 – Index of Environmental Policy Uncertainty

  • Presentation “Environmental Policy Uncertainty using Newspapers articles” – L. Nowzohour, M. van den Heuvel
  • Q&A – Take away:
    • Overall, there is an agreement that newspaper articles seem a good source of information to capture how investors perceive policy uncertainty. Other potential sources could be market-based research, Thomson Reuters news, or possibly the text of official legislation. Web resources like Twitter seem less appealing for this kind of analysis.
    • A main question is how we can determine whether a newspaper article discusses national versus foreign climate policy. It is reasonable to assume that you need a training set for each country (as the same English keywords may not apply for both the US and Australia). This seriously reduces the scope of the countries we can cover.
    • Also, are perception of investors driven by foreign or national policies?  If we are able to disentangle foreign from domestic policies, it could be an interesting research question to test whether foreign policies matter more than domestic policies.
  • Presentation “Environmental Policy Uncertainty using the OECD PINE database” – M. Andersen, L. Nowzohour
  • Q&A -Take away:
    • Here the focus is mainly on the frequency of policy changes, but policy changes may not translate into more uncertainty (markets may have planned the change).
    • The database is patchy and incomplete, but we may be able to use some of that information to provide contextual information on the movements we see in our newspaper series.
    • What type of "uncertainty" do investors care about? Predictability. It does not matter whether policies are complex or revised in a planned manner as long as changes are foreseeable for the investor at the time of investment. So more than policy complexity (number of rules, exemptions, etc), uncertainty about the time frame is actually what matters. Investors are able to ‘do their homework’ to navigate through complex rules, but they can’t predict when policy will change or how long an instrument will last. 

13:00–14:00 Lunch
14:00–15:00 – Evaluating financing instruments for cleantech

  • Presentation “Panorama of cleantech financing in Switzerland”, Eric Plan (Cleantech Alps)
  • Presentation “Venturekick: Early stage financing for cleantech”, M. van den Heuvel, (EPFL)
  •  Q&A – Take away
    • How do we define clean tech sectors? There is an official harmonised definition of cleantech. One proposal is to look at whether the biggest value driver that the startup offers is related to one of the COP21 objectives. Another proposal to look at is whether the output is a clean (reducing footprint) product. We will contact our partners to collect existing classifications of cleantech sectors.
    • In the research project, we will clearly focus on the difference between cleantech and non-cleantech: do cleantech startups have a different gut feeling than other non-cleantech startups, conditional of team and project grade?
    • Likely, what matters most in these venture competitions is really fame, exposure, PR that winning the competition provides.
    • What is the consistency of judges across stages? We could report information on this as well as on  the consistency of gut feeling across stages.
    • Suggested event: (sponsored by Cleantech Alps)

15:00–15:30 – Final remarks and next steps  

  • Meeting once a year makes sense
  • We will circulate reports and papers to partners as they arise and be clear on whether we expect feedback.
  • Partners will inform the research team if they discuss this project in the media.
  • When we are ready to communicate our research results, we should reach out to the partners for help.