Environmental Research Digest – April 2012
This is the latest report on the potential for eco-innovation of Europe and it is positioned within a framework of environmental and innovation policies for a green economy. It provides an analysis of the future markets for environmental innovations, the impact of regulation and an overview of private equity investments over the last 10 years.
- There is currently a considerable interest among policymakers and business circles in the opportunities that eco-innovation might bring in environmental and economic terms.
- The recent literature specialised on eco-innovation indicate that the strongest global players in traditional environmental technologies are the US (36%) and Europe (33%) with along tail of other players.
- A very similar trend is found regarding energy generation technologies, mobility, recycling, and water technologies that to some extent present relatively well-identified markets.
- Other eco-innovation market segments that are less mature but growing in importance include energy efficiency, storage and infrastructure. Underpinned by global debates in energy sufficiency and climate change, these technologies are expected to be the next fastest growing eco-innovation market.
- The largest venture capital flows have been accrued also in these types of technologies.
- It is likely that global markets on energy generation and management have already well defined players.
- Europe has a significant gap on investments in these types of technologies relative to the US, but still in second place at the global level.
- Relative to energy technologies other eco-innovations in mobility, agriculture, and new materials receive less financing support in private capital to upscale new markets.
- The role of policy here is to raise awareness of the large number of eco-innovation opportunities and create the necessary incentives for current nascent markets up scaling.
- What is clear from the study is the horizontal and polyvalent nature of eco-innovations.
- They are produced in one sector and find applications in many others.
- This indicates a clear parallel with previous waves of structural changes like steam engine or ICTs where the character of polyvalence and multiple-purpose was a key feature of the technologies underpinning changes in the structure of the aggregates.
- The new European strategy for industrial development calls for a smart specialisation.
- Given the large potential to contribute to sustainability and business creation eco-innovation seems a good option for smart specialisation in Europe.