Notes from Cleantech Panel Discussions at BioFinance

As mentioned in my prior post, there was a first at BioFinance this year – a panel on Cleantech, and a number of Cleantech presenting companies.

The discussion began with the question: Is cleantech the future of life science? (maybe for investors looking for quicker and more reliable returns on investment?! take a look where the dollars are going! The Cleantech sector is now outperforming other sectors, it is the best sector in US stock market and was up 46% last year.

Deloitte is compiling the “Green 15”, from 150 candidates who have submitted profiles this year. Interestingly, some companies seem to be waivering between life sciences and cleantech – they just can’t decide where they are or where they should be. After all, if they call themselves a life science company, investors approach cautiously … but that’s just me being cynical.

Susan McLean, a Senior Manager of Business Development at the TSX, gave an interesting overview of the sector. The TSX had 94 cleantech issues in 2007, and it is growing. In fact, there was a tripling of activity from 2005 to 2007, progressing well in 2008; there were 2.5 billion shares traded in 2007. It is looking at pure-play companies and integrated companies. Some sub-sectors of listed companies include solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, fuel cell, waste to energy, and others. Now, for the best part – companies even at the $50 million value are getting analyst coverage – something unseen for many “small” companies on US exchanges.

Another panelist was a well-recognized member of Bay Street, Steven Winokur from Canaccord Adams. A few high-level points came out of his talk. He recognized Cleantech to be the best performing sector. There are a number of biotech applications in Cleantech that he mentioned:

  • Agriculture: genetic crop technologies, organic fertilizers, water/waste remediation
  • Nanotechnology for desalinization
  • Biofuels – lignol, syntec biofuel
  • Green Building – a noted possibility

Canaccord Adams puts out a newsletter with quality research reports each month, and they are a highly recommended read by Duncan Stewart, from Deloitte.

Nanotech Blood Pressure Monitor

Coming soon to your body: A real-time blood pressure monitor.

As discussed in the article Nanowires in the blood could feel the pressure, reseachers at the Georgia Institute of Technology used the piezoelectric effect in zinc oxide semiconducting nanowires to generate a current proportional to the amount the nanowire is bent. When implanted in the body, a change in blood pressure could easily be monitored by a device using this sensitive technology (detection of forces at the piconewton scale: 10^-12 N). Zinc oxide is also biocompatible, so it is very unlikely to be attacked and rejected by the immune system.

Get ready for a variety of devices that could interact with this sensor, as it could relay information through a simple wireless signal. Just think of the number of other biological applications this could have. Brain pressure sensing in concussion patients? Researchers are constantly developing new nanoscale, biocompatible sensors, generators, switches and transmitting systems. This nanowire pressure sensing device will surely be added to the biosensing and reporting toolkit.

Some nano toolkit links:

India Update: Finance Bill 2007

Some changes are going to happen in the finance communities in India. Their Finance Minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, recently presented the Finance Bill 2007. PricewaterhouseCoopers put out an extensive report discussing the implications for Ireland, but also discusses many of the changes affecting overseas investments among other tax and investment changes.

India’s venture capital scene is highlighted by a tax pass through status eligible to foreign and domestic funds, as discussed in The Financial Express. What does this mean? It means that they are exempt from tax on income from investments in venture capital undertakings. However, this is not the case for all industries. This tax pass through is only applicable to investments in the IT, biotech and nanotech industries.

Another article in The Financial Express highlights a new clause put into Finance Bill 2007 surrounding gas distribution networks.

“A new clause (vi) inserted in sub-section (4) of Section 80-IA provides that any undertaking carrying on the business of laying and operating cross-country natural gas distribution network, including gas pipelines and storage facilities being an integral part of the network, will be eligible for deduction under the section if it is owned by a company registered in India or by a consortium of such companies or by an authority or a board or a corporation established constituted or constituted under any Central or state Act…” (Full text available at The Financial Express)

It isn’t surprising to see the Indian government giving special provisions to gas distribution networks. At the rate business enterprise and consumer wealth is growing in India, much more energy is needed; a more comprehensive network of gas distribution will be required to get the energy where it needs to go. This is backed by a huge demand in automotive vehicles. A news report from Hindu Busines Line mentions that Hyundai Motor India realized a 74% increase in domestic vehicle sales during February 2007 compared to the same month last year. This is complemented by a 60% increase from Honda Siel Cars India (HSCI), and an 81% increase from General Motors. Nice trend. Where are you putting your money?

Want to learn more about doing business in the new Indian economy, consider a few bestselling books to gain some insight:

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