Why do these 10 countries stand out for clean tech?


Vikki Knowles

Editor at fetch

Europe takes top 3 spots when it comes to clean tech innovation – and this is apparent in the 2018 Global Cleantech Innovation Index (GCII), which looks at where clean tech firms are mostly like to pop up in the next decade.

Our top 10 countries on the most recent GCII include:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Netherlands
  3. Sweden
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Singapore
  6. United States of America
  7. Finland
  8. Denmark
  9. Germany
  10. Ireland

Europe overall performs well with Singapore joining the four European nations in the top five and the US features at number 6.  Switzerland this year has jumped from being 10th place last year to 1st place this year.

So why are these ten countries such hotbeds for such sustainable innovation?

The GCII looks at the impact of policies and other related factors on churning out cleantech entrepreneurs and the commercialization of their firms.

The reasons for countries scoring well are three-fold, according to the index. They address the growing demand for renewable energy and other clean tech, connect start-ups ‘with multiple channels to increase their success rates’ and boost international engagement across the cleantech ‘ecosystem’.

But, why do they stand out and where are the opportunities are in cleantech?

Let’s take Denmark, for example: it tops the list at 8th place – thanks to both its inputs and outputs to innovation. For example, it has strong cleantech exports, a high numbers of public cleantech companies and renewable energy jobs.

However, Denmark’s halving of public cleantech R&D expenditure seems has affected the country’s ranking and is likely to lose the country’s top ranking should this ‘weakened policy’ continue.

Also, Denmark, Sweden and Finland have a high number of private investors in the cleantech market, in relation to the national GDP, boosting the demand for cleantech and giving innovative start-ups the capital to scale-up.

Outside of this cluster, the USA and the UK’s biggest strengths are their cleantech-focused funds and domestic investors giving start-ups access to private capital.

Singapore joins the list this year as being the only Asian country taking a top 10 spot.  The country excels and holds top ranking in political environmental, regulatory environment and tertiary education while found its weakness including environmental performance and productivity growth.

Ireland on the other hand also joins the list this year with it improves on its infrastructure and human capital and research, as well as the country’s knowledge and technology output.

Countries this year that have dropped off our top 10 include Norway, Israel and Canada.

The clustering of innovations on fetch largely reflect the top 10, with Europe in general offering a hub of solutions, particularly around the Netherlands, Poland and the UK, and outside of this, North America being the next busiest continent. While cleantech is a hefty category in fetch’s wealth of sustainable solutions, it’s not the only one, sitting within these four economic systems: food and agriculture, cities and urban mobility, energy and materials and health and well-being, too. Better yet, each innovation in the database is assigned corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the innovation would help respond to.

The report also finds a positive correlation between inputs and outputs of innovation. Countries that are facilitating investment in innovation, either through public R&D, cleantech-friendly policy, or any other of the inputs measured tend to also reap benefits from the commercialization of cleantech companies.

Much of the early-stage venture capital investments is tied to the emerging convergence between clean transportation, energy efficiency and renewable energy, the report finds – a trend crucial in the journey to achieving universal energy access by 2030. Improving cleantech deployment and innovation, the report says, is crucial to become fossil-free by 2050, and keep warming below 2 degrees.

The report also shows how our Asian counterparts are catching up, as the Republic of Korea takes 12th place, Japan 13th and Hong Kong (China) 14th, it will be interesting to see if any one of these countries take a top 10 spot next year.

fetch believes that innovation is the key driver to building a sustainable future. Luckily, no matter where a company is based in the world, they can benefit from the smartest innovators, bridging the gap between sustainability commitments and fostering relationships with start-ups to make them h

You can find the full report here.