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VC firm expands 'clean tech' focus

Mohr Davidow Ventures hires partner for its energy and materials team, as corporate America warms up to renewable resources.

Mohr Davidow Ventures, an early investor in the "clean tech" movement, is expanding its efforts in the field.

The venture capital firm has named attorney Joshua Green as a partner on its energy and materials team. Green, who has long worked with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, will focus on solar energy, biofuel and "clean tech" efforts that show potential for progress over existing methods or efficiencies.

Green's addition increases the firm's energy and materials team to three and comes as corporate America is gradually increasing its interest in pollution reduction and renewable resources. In September, for example, a group of state institutional investors called the Investor Network on Climate Risk announced a $1 billion investment in clean technology.

Clean technology is expected to grow into a $10 billion annual industry by 2009 in North America, according to Cleantech Venture Networks. Worldwide, that figure is expected to reach $17 billion during the same period. NthPower, a pioneer in clean tech investing, likewise expects venture capital investment in that area to grow substantially in the years to come.

Mohr Davidow Ventures, based in Menlo Park, Calif., began to focus on clean technology investments about four years ago, when partner Erik Straser shifted his efforts from enterprise software to energy and materials. Since forming a clean tech team, the firm has invested in such companies as Nanosolar, Jadoo Power Systems and Energy Innovations.

Mohr Davidow Ventures has made seven to eight investments in energy and renewable resources since then, Straser noted. The VC firm, which generally invests in companies that are in the early stage of development and seeking their first or second round of funding, has yet to receive a payout from any of its clean tech companies going public or being acquired.