So what do we learned from 2009? Recession drove a little bit of a decline on venture capital investments in the clean technologies sector compared to 2008 but the good news is that 2009 seem to be a record year for federal grants and funds on renewable energy, clean technology and green chemistry.
There was also proliferation of new green chemistry companies that came out and I am, in fact, going to introduce several more in the coming weeks. Activities coming from industrial biotechnology companies also held up well in 2009 although I think 2010 is the year that they really need to get more influx of funds as I have a gut feeling that their cash on hand is a little on the low side especially when banks are still tight with their money.
Bioplastics, unfortunately, had a little bit of a hard time competing with the lowered petroleum-based plastics price last year but the good news is that a lot more plastic consumers on the retail end of the supply chain are interested in incorporating more of the compostable/biodegradable resin on their packaging. We will probably see pick-up in demand for bioplastic at the second half of the year especially if petroleum oil price will rise again.
Regulation is another driver for more research and development as well as product launch of new renewable-based, more environment-friendly chemical alternatives. In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is already looking forward to reform the existing Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA); in Europe, the chemical legislation Reach will take its next step; pressures to ban bisphenol-A and phthalates will continue, while ban on plastic bags and bottles will subside a bit as efforts on promoting recycling seem to be getting stronger.
Climate change issues will still be on the forefront for innovation and I'm pretty sure we will see more chemical companies tagging new products and processes with "less carbon footprint" and "less greenhouse gas emission."
Overall, 2009 is a pretty good year for biotechnology, renewable and green chemistry, I think. My feeling is that 2010 will be another year where chemical companies will embrace the concept of green chemistry as they already did with sustainability. Also, just as electronics and semi-conductors drove profits before for specialty chemical companies, this time clean technology markets will also be a driving growth areas for them.
Now all of these are just my own amateur predictions based on what I've read and heard so far so please don't sue me if I'm wrong lol! You can check out my brief predictions from last year and see if some of them came through.
Also, check out some of the predictions for 2010 coming from key industry chemical leaders at this recently released article from ICIS Chemical Business.