What Use Is Nanotechnology?

Technology Review, besides being a great magazine edited by Jason Pontin, who I have known since the heyday of Red Herring, also puts on some great conferences. So I was excited and honoured to be invited to EmTech Spain, a two day conference in Malaga focussing on emerging technologies. Along with my World Economic Forum colleague Javier García Martínez of …

Innovation Starvation or Risk Avoidance?

While working on our report on Using Emerging Technologies to Address Global Risks, one of my favourite SciFi authors, Neal Stephenson, popped up with an essay on Innovation Starvation. It echoes Tyler Cowen‘s arguments that all the easy big stuff has been done,  and that all we have left to look forward to are incremental improvements rather than world changing …

Cleantech in Melbourne: No Worries!

According to JP Morgan, flying to 21186 miles to Melbourne and back for a clean tech conference generated 5.63 tonnes of carbon dioxide, but unlike most conferences on this subject the hot air emissions were negligible. The Sir Mark Oliphant Cleantech: Mainstream and at the Edge conference was refreshing for the positive outlook on cleantech rather than the self flagellation …

Talking Cleantech In Melbourne

The Sir Mark Olifant Cleantech conference has been a lot of fun so far, from Eric Isaac’s opening overview of the the issues (and solutions) to Stefan Hajkowicz’s analysis of megatrends that will shape our future technology development. I’m still struck by how much cleantech seems to be focused in a few rather obvious areas, something which effectively prices a …

Sunfilm Eclipsed By Withdrawal of Government Subsidies

I have always been sceptical about investing in solar companies on the basis that the market is artificially distorted by government subsidises which can work with you, or against you. Germany’s Sunfilm which manufactures amorphous silicon modules (a-Si), has today filed for insolvency claiming its business plans have been crippled by Germany’s plans to sharply reduce its solar feed-in tariff …

Cleantech Investors Desperately Seeking The Exit

In my predictions over the last year I mentioned that Clean Tech would have a rocky time in 2009 for four reasons Renewable energy interest tends to lag oil prices by 6-12 months and with oil almost back to 2006 levels a lot of transient interest will evaporate Lot’s of clean tech companies based their business models on sustained high …

Time For A New Green Agenda?

Yesterday’s meeting started me thinking about why, despite some NGO finding another potential climate related catastrophe almost every day, there is a feeling of frustration and a lack of progress. It looks to be the fault of the Green movement itself. If we take a look at the history of the environmental movement, most if it sprang from the anti …

The Physical Sciences are the Cornerstone of Prosperity for the US Future

The new US administration seems to be moving quickly, allowing the use of embryonic stem cells and Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu addressed all the national labs yesterday. A couple of the heartening points reported at CosmicVariance are The DOE is the principal supporter of physical sciences in the US, and the physical sciences are the conernstone of prosperity for …