Sitra’s Environmental Programme commissioned Taloustutkimus Oy to undertake a survey on Finnish cleantech enterprises. The cleantech sector comprises more than 1,000 enterprises of various sizes. The sector is young and expanding – most of the companies have been established within the past two decades. The survey revealed that cleantech companies see their future prospects as being bright and they expect rapid growth in the near future.
The Taloustutkimus Oy market research company conducted a survey on behalf of Sitra on the future prospects of cleantech companies in Finland. The survey also charted the companies’ views about and the need for external funding. Carried out in January 2007, the survey involved 803 cleantech companies, which were selected from the company register created by Etlatieto Ltd for Sitra’s Environmental programme, and which comprises a total of 1,300 companies.
Cleantech is a young and growing sector
Cleantech companies are relatively young in Finland. Most of them, 64 per cent, were established in the 1980s and 1990s. Those established in the 2000s account for 17 per cent of the sector.
The term “clean technologies”, or “cleantech”, refers to all products, services, processes and systems that have a less negative impact on the environment than their conventional alternatives. Cleantech as a concept penetrates all of society, and thereby the companies represent a wide variety of fields. For example, the companies involved in the survey operate in the areas of efficient energy use and energy saving, water and waster water management, clean processes, materials and products, and recycling or they provide clean energy.
Nearly half of the companies involved in the survey anticipated over 10 per cent growth in the net sales of their cleantech operations within the next three years. Every third company estimated that the annual growth would fall within the 3 to 10 per cent bracket. Only one per cent of the respondents expected to see decreasing net sales in the near future. Growth orientation is strongest in the early and start-up stage companies. Growth is sought through various means – by developing products and services, increasing collaboration with other companies or by investing in growing exports and internationalisation.
The companies were also aware of the obstacles they might encounter. The key factors according to the survey were resources, funding and a competitive situation.
Venture capitalists sought after by early-stage companies
Half of the cleantech enterprises are planning to seek external funding within the next three years. Funding is needed for machinery and equipment acquisitions, construction, and business and product development and internationalisation. They are looking to receiving funding mainly from banks, Finnvera or venture-capital companies. Half of the companies had a positive attitude towards venture-capital companies. Most of these were young start-up or early-stage companies.
Executive Director, Sitra’s Environmental Programme
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