Rachel Lerman, Puget Sound Business Journal | 9/19/14
Element 8, a Seattle-based angel investor group that focuses on clean tech startups, announced Sept. 19 that Kristi Growdon would be taking over as executive director. Growdon previously ran her own consulting company and has a long history working to advance agricultural research at Washington State University. The group is on track to double its investments this year compared with the $3.7 million it invested last year.
I chatted with Growdon about her goals for the organization and why clean tech matters.
Is the clean tech market growing in the Pacific Northwest? The Pacific Northwest has a lot of companies and folks that are committed to finding solutions to the problems. The market is growing. I think it’s because the opportunities continue to ignite and excite people. In my experience working in energy in the past 20 years, in the Pacific Northwest we’re in a beautiful area off in the corner kind of by ourselves so we have a lot of ability to create and think and come up with new ideas. We’re not tied down to the traditional concepts energy folks might think of.
What are the areas within clean tech we should be watching? I think there’s some really unique things coming up in agriculture. Agriculture is significant to our state. Most of us eat three meals a day, and that food has to come from somewhere. Agriculture is a huge growth area in clean tech.
Water is going to be a significant issue for the whole country but also for the Pacific Northwest. How do you manage that water, how do you deal with the stormwater? The third is data for managing buildings in a more energy efficient way. You want to sell a product that a consumer wants to use. It needs to provide value. It needs to makes sense to them and allows them to do what they need to do and have a positive impact on the environment at the same time.
Why is investing in clean tech important? Clean tech is so important because it’s a filter you use to make your decisions. You make a decision to purchase something or to upgrade your home or take the train to Portland instead of drive. We make a lot of decisions that are based around clean tech but we don’t call them that.