If you are working in the high-tech sector or are at a startup, the first half of 2023 was definitely a roller coaster. We saw venture funding dry up for many sectors; saw the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank - the bank where many startups and venture capital funds kept their money; and observed layoffs happen in the technology giants - Google, Facebook, Apple and others. In fact, one of the VC firms, Cervin, did an analysis showing that venture funding has been at an all-time low this year, with only 19 mega deals being signed in Q1 2023 compared to 98 the previous year; funding fell by 53% for angel and seed funding and by 30% for Series A rounds. In fact, except for companies focusing on generative AI and AI adjacent technology in the high-tech sector, it has been an exceptionally difficult year financially.
How did the clean-tech sector fare? Unsurprisingly, while there were some impacts on startups and their ability to raise additional funds from venture capital firms, the sector as a whole has been pretty robust. With funding from the Inflation Reduction Act in the US, and other government sources in Europe, China and India being readily available for clean technology, startups and companies that are willing to build for the environment have found opportunities beyond what the traditional avenues.
As GreenBiz noted, leading companies around the world have committed to $1 billion in funds that are committed to early carbon removal technologies. These include Microsoft, Apple, Shopify, Stripe in the tech sector and Autodesk, JP Morgan Chase, H&M Group and Workday in the energy, finance, and fashion sectors. As regulations on environmental sustainability and carbon removals come into play in Europe and the US in order to meet the requirements from the Paris Accords to keep the Earth’s temperature at 1.5C, more and more companies are focusing on methods that use data and machine learning to monitor their environmental footprint and support companies and organizations that can help them reduce it.
And it’s not just carbon! Water utilities have started building out their strategies for a digital world. Whether these involve simpler solutions focusing on improving their data, mapping and analysis capabilities to building out digital twins of their systems for predictive maintenance and training through virtual reality - companies in the water sector have begun expanding the envelope of what is possible.
This in turn has led to more jobs in the sector. These jobs are beginning to look different from what were posted a couple of years ago - there’s been greater focus in each industry on looking for professionals who have great experience and understanding of the sector, be it water, agriculture or climate, and who can wield the tools of our digital age - Python, ChatGPT and deep learning.
So, for professionals in clean tech who have been thinking about acquiring digital skills - this is probably the best time to get started!