California dreaming

With Moixa part of the 16 strong UK delegation taking part in the fifth annual Clean and Cool Mission, CEO Simon Daniel gives his account of the event.

Moixa is this week over in California as one of 16 UK cleantech companies on the Clean and Cool Mission.

This morning I gave a company pitch at Cleantech Forum which is perhaps the ‘Cheltenham gold cup’ of this venture scene, hoping alongside our other British companies, to pick up awareness and some gold to further commercialise our innovations.

The mission was organised by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and The Long Run Venture, with support from UKTI, Shell GameChanger programme and also Orrick, providing legal advice on setting up and growing businesses and deals here in the Valley.

The UK has given the US so much of our talent, from Beckham, to Jony Ive, Simon Cowell and perhaps Piers Morgan. Now we want something back. We’re not satisfied with ‘the Hoff’ – this time we want their business, new partnerships and new venture backing.

In the room there is a buzz. Yesterday we heard from a serial genius, Saul Griffith, that cleantech needs to be awesome. It is changing the world, we are changing the world. Lives, economies, sustainable and growing business depend on it. We saw some of his revolutionary projects: from planes that fly in circles generating wind, to a highly granular visualisation of how much energy, embodied energy and share of national resources he uses, providing insights into where change can make the biggest cost, carbon and energy savings.

Our UK regional showcase session started with mission company Zeta Controls showing a new LED light bulb replacement for the now banned 60w incandescent, followed by Aeristech on a revolutionary (supersonic) electric turbo charger motor. I then spoke about how Moixa Smart DC will replace all inefficient AC/DC adaptors with high power USB sockets, powered by batteries charged off-peak. We then saw a demo of the world’s most efficient hand dryer, from SA Vortex, and then heard from SEaB Energy about how its MuckBuster system could literally eat all our food waste, to produce energy.

Mission companies are gathering investment interests, partners or helping to gain momentum on closing deals. It’s all part of the aim of the mission, which the TSB’s Richard Miller explains. With many companies receiving UK government R&D grants and support, it’s an opportunity to showcase outputs and increase commercial traction. Several mission companies, including ours, also picked up additional TSB competitive grants this week to collaborate on existing pilots.

Tonight we are dropping by for tea with British entrepreneurs who created and sold Bebo, and then to the local British consulate to network with local executives brought together by the UKTI. Tomorrow we are off to meet the corporate incubator teams at Siemens, and meet with executives from the Shell GameChanger initiative that is also fuelling pioneering cleantech innovation.

Cleantech continues to receive considerable cash over here, and Cleantech Group has tracked $41.6 billion (£26.2 billion) of cleantech mergers and acquisitions across 395 deals in 2011, a record year – up 155 per cent from 2010. M&A is on the rise, with companies seeking new growth and product lines that will determine the future revenue. It’s also perhaps increasingly seen for new investments as a safer prospect – de-risked from short term exposure to currency risks, sovereign debt and retail market volatility – a potential safe harbour bet.

Whether dotcom and social media companies succeed, or whether sites like Twitter and Facebook even exist in 10 years’ time, is always a gamble. But it’s pretty clear that in 10, 20, 30 years’ time, consumers will always need cheap, efficient energy. Without energy none of the temporal Sudoku fixes of fab web companies matter. It’s clear looking at the numerous industry venture players loitering in the lobbies, that the fish bowl of cleantech companies presented here could translate into solid future revenues or even become business units or global giants.

Simon Daniel

Simon Daniel

Simon Daniel is the inventor of the USB battery and folding keyboard. He was also CEO of Moixa, the renewable energy group.

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