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Posted: December 15, 2011

Report from China: The land of cleantech opportunity

The beginning of an eye-opening trip

Bart Taylor

My first thought on landing in China was that we'd come for the right reason.

We've flown here to finalize a content partnership with China Dealmaker magazine. After flying 6,000 miles, we'd descended to a thousand feet or so, and I still couldn't make out terra firma in the thick soup of fog and smog out the airplane window.

The primary mission of our content partnership is to profile U.S. cleantech solutions and markets to China's financial and M&A community. With China slated to invest many times the resources as the U.S. in the coming years to clean and green their economy, and my window view testament to their challenge, I'd say we're on the right track.

The short drive from the airport also begins to confirm my suspicion that I've really no concept of how engaged, how awake China now is, and U.S. media headlines have proven inadequate in communicating the profound changes taking place here - good and bad. Driving into this bustling city, past a phalanx of modern office buildings topped with corporate logos from around the globe, is an immediate eye-opener.

One accurate characterization is that China has money - and markets - that potentially can benefit U.S. cleantech firms and startups. And as I read today from Beijing about the push in the U.S. to couple approval of the Keystone oil pipeline to a tax credit for business, I'm reminded that our political dialogue may be doing no favors for U.S. research and commercialization interests in cleantech and renewables.

Firms seeking capital and waiting for US capital markets to improve may be taking a risk. China's moving fast. This from last week's Planet-Profit Report and www.renewableenergyfocus.com:

China is creating 16 national energy research and development centres intended specifically to drive innovation in the clean energy sector, and by the end of 2011, national Chinese R&D expenditures are targeted to rise 11 percent over levels recorded just earlier in the year. Eight of 10 companies with the largest R&D budgets have established R&D facilities in China, India, or both. There has been a 600 percent increase in the number of college graduates in science fields in China between 1995 and 2005.

More later from China on Planet-Profit's content plans with China Dealmaker, opportunities for U.S.-based firms that should develop as a result, and developments from meetings we have lined up with a cast of energy, water and policy officials in Beijing and Shanghai over the next several days.

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Bart Taylor is the publisher of ColoradoBiz magazine. E-mail him at btaylor@cobizmag.com.

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