The agricultural sector is seeing a rise in innovation around a diversity of subsectors, including irrigation systems, biodiversity and vegetal biotechnology and innovative agricultural tools. Due to a growing and diverse demand for food at a global level, new clean technologies in the food and agricultural system are a key to productivity growth for achieving sustainability.

The agriculture & food sector has seen rapid growth in investment since 2014, with figures in the last three years consistently doubling the value amount of investments of previous years. The sub-sectors driving this growth are very diverse, as a consequence of the aggregate nature of the sector as a whole. When unpacking the upstream agricultural and downstream food innovations, there’s a plethora of technologies to choose from showcasing current sectoral innovations.

Some of the most innovative subsectors are:

  • Precision tools and software
  • Alternative plant protection
  • Alternative vegetal nutrition
  • Plan biotechnology


Smart Cities/Construction  

A high number of leading Cleantech industries are focusing energy efficiency technologies for green buildings. Sustainable innovation in buildings is a key environmental challenge, as cities represent now three quarters of energy consumption and 80% of CO2 emissions worldwide.

The table above illustrates the evolution of the sector of energy efficiency, which is at the core of cities transformation.


The headline sector of energy efficiency has been the smart building sector, with the smart home and commercial markets receiving the bulk of big investments.

Some of the most popular innovation tools for sustainable buildings are:

  • Building management systems
  • Efficient heating systems
  • Insulation & waterproofing
  • Structural woodwork
  • Materials of green structures
  • Effective Cooling


Clean Energy

Cleantech industries are, by definition, on the edge of fostering innovation in energy efficiency and renewable technologies. From clean energy facilitators to managing energy consumption through intelligent power systems, the clean technology sector involves all dimensions of the energy innovation.

One of the main focus of the clean energy sector is represented by solar sector investment. Solar energy received $1.3B in investment during 2016 – the highest level of investment in the sector since 2011. With production cost and point of cost drastically falling, the sector remains an attractive proposition for new investment. While a part of the investment in solar is due to the falling price point and cheaper production costs driven by Chinese manufacturing, the sector is still very far from finished innovating technologically.

More broadly, some of the key sectors in which the energy innovation operates is:

  • Hydro-electric power
  • Energy Storage
  • Efficient power stations
  • Energy efficiency: heat
  • Generation of solar energy
  • Generation of wind energy
  • Production of biomass energy



The Cleantech industry is promoting a major shift for innovative tools which measure environmental impact as well as promoting waste-saving mechanisms. The development of innovative air-pollution assessment technologies, and innovative engineering systems for efficient infrastructure aimed at waste and wastewater treatment mark the path for innovation in this field.

Some of the key fields in which the industry is operating are:

  • Desalination systems
  • Infrastructures & facilities
  • Wastewater treatment technology
  • Industrial & soil Remediation
  • Indoor air pollution control
  • Innovative collection systems
  • Optical waste sorting technologies
  • Waste treatment technologies


Efficient Industry

Industrial processes are changing radically, and Cleantech companies are taking advantage of evolving opportunities in the field. From the evolution of robotics and the creation of advance material to technologies involving carbon capture and clean coal, many are the themes relevant to industrial companies.

The most relevant fields in which Cleantech companies are cooperating directly with industries are:

  • Green chemistry
  • Control / Control and efficient machines
  • Product Design
  • Treatment of industrial pollution
  • Industrial robotics
  • Carbon capture and clean coal technologies
  • Advanced materials



The transportation industry is changing rapidly in response to volatile oil prices, increasing urban congestion and populations and stricter regulations on air, land and maritime pollution. Cleantech companies take advantage of new opportunities in this fast-changing field.

The rise and rise of transportation investment has largely been driven by investments in mobility services, with over $13.3B investment in mobility services deals in 2016. But even when mobility services are excluded, there has still been significant growth in the sector, increasing by threefold in value from $1.3B in 2015 to $3.9B in 2016.

Some of the top themes of clean technologies operating in the transportation industry are:

  • Logistics improvement technologies
  • Vehicle technologies
  • Logistics and fleet tracking

Source: Cleantech Group Quarterly Investment Monitor, 2017.