During the week of June 2, 2010, international cleantech clusters and investors gathered in New York City for a focused discussion created in partnership between the Consulate General of Switzerland and Sustainable World Capital (SWC). Among the participants were Christian Haeuselmann co-founder of swisscleantech, Nina Harjula development manager of the Finnish Cleantech Cluster and Shawn Lesser, President of Sustainable World Capital.
The title for the discussion was “Investment Opportunities: Where is Cleantech Capital Going?” This discussion was part of the three-day, three-city Five Fund Forum hosted by SWC, which is known for its focus on connecting institutional investors with profitable sustainable companies around the world, in an effort to raise money and increase their financial market exposure.
Shawn Lesser, at the event, made the announcement that several Cleantech cluster organizations were organizing a global “cleantech cluster of clusters.” Those involved included swisscleantech, the Clean Tech Center, and Finnish Cleantech Cluster.
Six months later, on November 15, 2010, the Global Cleantech Cluster Association was officially launched in the Cleantech Venture Day in Lahti, Finland. The North American headquarters launch took place on November 30, in San Diego. At the San Diego launch, the GCCA announced it would hold a Later Stage Award to support the acceleration of clean technology adoption by bringing the very best of cleantech companies onto the world’s stage.
In November of 2011, the first annual GCCA Later Stage Awards were held in Dublin, Ireland as a part of the Ireland Cleantech Summit. The event gathered over 300 people and was featured on CNN International. The 2011 awards ceremony was held at Dublin’s Mansion House and honored the ‘best of the best’ from the GCCA’s then 32 cleantech clusters. The commemorative awards for 2011 featured polished bog wood, reclaimed from the bogs of Ireland.
In 2012, the GCCA welcomed 14 more clusters as members and broadened its reach into the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Latin America. In March of 2012, co-founders Shawn Lesser and Ben Taube collaborated with Head Judge Peter Adriaens on a highly regarded paper that outlined the case for clusters. Titled, Cleantech Clusters – Scaling Local Economic Development for Global Investment, the paper was published in the March issue of Environmental Finance.
In the paper they wrote, “Whether as physical incubators of Cleantech growth companies, or business services and partnerships for later stage innovators, these clusters represent and attract a portfolio of companies characteristic of their mandate (job growth, green procurement, economic development, high value exits) and local business culture. Cleantech clusters are fast becoming the driving force behind the acceleration of developments and innovations in energy, water, waste, fuels, green materials and green buildings.”
The second annual Later Stage Awards were held in November of 2012 at the Savannah International Clean Energy Conference. The event highlighted Savannah and Georgia as a growing cleantech epic center of the South.
The GCCA currently consists of 47 global clusters members, representing 5,000+ cleantech companies worldwide.