Venture capitalists have money available for technology that will enable the maritime industry to grow in an environmentally-responsible manner, but like any investors they base their decisions on the commercial viability of the products and services.
"Silicon Valley has made a big commitment to green technology and sustainability," said Wayne Larocque, a partner in the Northern California debt fund, Acuity Ventures.
"I view the ports here as ground zero for this type of technology," Larocque told the PortTech Expo in Los Angeles.
By The Numbers: Containerized Ocean Trade - Southern California Ports.
Venture capitalists, angel investors and wealthy individuals who invest in start-up companies have the same goal no matter what the investment, and that is to earn an adequate return, said John Glanville, general partner of Athenaeum Capital Partners3, an early stage technology venture capital fund.
Since funding start-ups is a high-risk investment, venture capitalists expect a high return. They also scrutinize the market potential for the product or service and the professionalism of the start-up founder and management team.
California is the center of venture capital for green technology, with enterprises in the state capturing more than 50 percent of the venture capital invested in green projects, said California Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, chairperson of the Assembly Select Committee on Ports.
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have put green technology investment on fast forward through their joint 2006 Clean Air Action Plan that calls for a 45 percent reduction in port-generated emissions over five years.
In addition to mandating emissions reductions through their lease arrangements with marine terminal operators, the ports have encouraged green technology development through their technology advancement program that is part of the clean-air plan.
The ports strive to reduce diesel emissions from all modes of transportation in the harbor, although they have concentrated on vessel operations and trucks, which are the two largest sources of pollution, said Port of Los Angeles spokesman Arley Baker.
The Southern California ports have become a major laboratory for green technology development in the goods movement industry. "The ports are the national model for incentivizing green technology," said Bill Lyte, co-founder of the Technoplex Group in Pasadena, Calif. He urged port users to support terminal and infrastructure projects, the future of which will be determined by their acceptance by neighboring communities.
"We have to protect the ports because that's where the projects will move forward," he said.
-- Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at email@example.com.