Friday, October 15, 2010

Meet the Entrepreneur - CleanTech - AFTERWORD

Dr Marc Newson, Ernst & Young

Expertly moderated by Ernst & Young's Dr Marc Newson, the CIE's spring Meet the Entrepreneur event explored three innovative businesses in the rapidly-growing field of clean technology.

The panellists:

Guy Pross - Director, Business Development and Commercial Partnerships, Better Place Australia

Stone Wang - Managing Director, Artemis Building Systems

Matthew Warnken - Managing Director, Crucible Carbon

Guided by the themes of Economics, Scalability, and Convenience, the panel related some insights gained from their experiences in starting and building three very different businesses:

Better Place Australia is a global company dedicated to zero emissions driving through the delivery of services to enable confident adoption and use of electric vehicles (EVs). Better Place Australia will build and operate the infrastructure and systems to optimise energy access and use. By providing the infrastructure and services that make it easy, affordable and attractive for motorists to adopt and drive electric vehicles, Better Place will enable the mass adoption of EVs in Australia. (

Guy Pross, Better Place Australia

Artemis Building Systems pty ltd (ABS) is a Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) specialist with design, supply and engineering capabilities in Australia and China. ABS provides innovative and responsible supply solutions for building-envelope sustainability such as integrated curtain wall and overhead glazing systems with conventional and high performance glass and claddings or can provide Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BPV) systems to suit particular design requirements. (
Crucible Carbon's pyrolysis process is designed to produce biochar, biocrude oils and pyrolysis gas from a variety of biomass sources at low capital cost and high energy efficiency - the goal being to have technology that is scalable, replicable and financially viable in today's economic conditions. Pyrolysis has significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a global 'wedge' level of carbon abatement through the production and land application of biochar, in addition to generating renewable energy. (

Matthew Warnken, Crucible Carbon
Stone Wang, Artemis Building Systems
 So, what did the panellists have to say about Economics, Scalability, and convenience? 

  1. Australia is an excellent test market. It's our backyard and a convenient place to demonstrate proof of concept if you're looking to scale up for the US.
  2. While it is generally inconvenient to be the first to try unproven technology, no one wants to be the last person with obsolete technology (i.e. a petrol-powered vehicle in an EV world).
  3. Sure the early adopters will pay to be green, but ultimately the rest of the market wants and needs to know how their lives will be impacted - will they retain, or regain, more time and money for food, housing, medicine, education, family?
  4. Where is the value? What's the IRR to the investor? What are the government money factors (corporate taxes and employment income that offset subsidies, tax breaks and grants)? These have to be clearly defined - and credible!
  5. If you're depending on subsidies, this can get tricky as companies scale up by expanding to other regions. These days it's not enough to think less than globally.

And what's keeping the panellists up at night?

Given the rapid development of new technologies and regulations in clean technology, our panellists cited the following issues:

• The question of balance - do you hold out for perfection or make a prototype that's "good enough"?

• The problem of standardization - many emerging proto-standards can stretch resources too thin.

Join us for our next Meet The Entrepreneur, to take place in the early part of next year. The theme will be Open Innovation.

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