Most of what we associate with the culture of start-up tech firms and entrepreneurial success, we locate (by default) in Silicon Valley. And for good reason: Silicon Valley has seen over 2.5 billion invested by venture capitalists in the third quarter of this year alone, accounting for over a third of all funds invested over the same period of time. Yet, the Pacific Northwest has emerged as another west coast hub for entrepreneurial success in medical and technological innovation. With a large, educated population and established tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon calling the area home, Seattle has begun to mix the necessary ingredients for a ripe and active start-up culture. A recent infographic (provided by Gist) illustrates some of the best attributes of the Emerald City’s start up culture. Click here for a larger version.
Given the Pacific Northwest’s commitment progressive policies towards reducing carbon emissions, I assumed that, while not specifically illustrated above, a good portion of Seattle’s entrepreneurs would be focused towards building businesses to capitalize on this sentiment. Not so however. Jon Prentice, a contributor to enterpriseSeattle, wrote a fairly critical analysis of the market forces hindering investment in clean technology avenues, calling it a “paradox of Washington clean tech.”
“What have been the state’s historical competitive advantages—cheap surplus of hydropower and a software-minded venture community— are both a blessing and a curse to the growth of clean technology companies in the state.
Washington isn’t, or at least not yet, in energy crisis mode and has very little incentive to “green” its already largely renewable sources of power.
This, along with a venture community that has its greatest exposure to and interest in software, Internet, and life science—not clean tech— has worked paradoxically to hold the state back.”
It isn’t all bad news however, as Jon goes on to discuss some of the Northwest’s local commitments towards smart urban policy and leveraging the investments in capital made towards software start ups. Read the full article here.
As it would be, local policy focused on bringing the downtown district of Seattle towards carbon neutrality would serve as a forum for start-up enterprises to serve the need of architects and builders to plan, construct and retrofit the existing infrastructure. Seattle’s 2030 district is a collaborative effort from the public and private sectors in order to reduce carbon emission and “make high-performance buildings the most profitable building type in Seattle.”
As a result of these efforts, angel investment groups such as Northwest Energy Angels have begun funding Seattle-based companies that are focused on reducing these carbon emissions, investigating means for localized and regional renewable energy sources. While the $3.5 million invested so far is a small fee, it remains to be seen if the lofty energy goals of cities like Seattle are going to spur a different reaction for clean technology start up companies, or if the business culture of Seattle is still not operating out of necessity.