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Trends in venture capital funding decisions are hindering commercialization of next-wave green energy technologies, according to a new Brookings Institution analysis.

Why it matters: Despite the urgency of climate change, the cleantech VC funding woes—especially for early-stage companies—will get worse if Trump succeeds in gutting Energy Department initiatives, the authors say.

Here are some of the headwinds Brookings identifies . . .

  • VC funding on cleantech companies fell from $7.5 billion in 2011 to $5.2 billion last year, and there were almost 200 fewer deals in 2016.
  • VC cleantech investment is concentrated in a few regions (check out the chart below), leaving other areas "starved for participation."
Expand chart
Data: Brookings analysis of Cleantech group's i3 Connect database; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios
  • Taken in tandem with a prior Brookings analysis on the wide geographic distribution of cleantech patents, report co-author Mark Muro tells Axios that the relatively narrow concentration of VC dollars suggests that promising climate-friendly ideas aren't getting VC money.
  • The vast majority of VC funding goes to more mature companies, while there's a declining slice of the pie over the last decade for riskier, early stage companies trying to create "radically" better climate-friendly tech. That means "fewer novel and potentially game-changing technologies are getting past the early stage."
  • On a related note, a handful of tech areas—efficiency, smart grids, storage, solar, bioenergy, and transportation—received about 80 percent of the funding between 2011-2016, while technologies including advanced nuclear are missing out.

What Brookings recommends: Support for federal programs that Trump wants to ax, like the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy and loan guarantees. It also makes the case for programs like the Cyclotron Road incubator at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.At the state level, one suggestion is having existing "green banks" in places like New York and Hawaii expand operations to finance riskier technologies.In the private sector, cleantech money should experiment with new financing models, like greater funding by corporations and corporate VC arms.The good news: There's some reason for optimism for early stage cleantech funding, via developments like the $1 billion Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund recently launched by Bill Gates and other investors.

Go deeper

Rep. Rice demands Cuomo resign after third woman accuses him of misconduct

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a February news conference in New York City. Photo: Seth Wenig/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) on Monday evening called for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to resign, after a third woman accused him of inappropriate behavior.

Driving the news: Anna Ruch told the New York Times Monday that Cuomo asked to kiss her at a New York City wedding reception in September 2019.

Scoop: Inside the GOP's plan to retake the House

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Republicans will reclaim their majority in 2022 by offering candidates who are women, minorities or veterans, a memo obtained by Axios says.

Why it matters: The document, drafted by a super PAC blessed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, names top Democrats to target — Jared Golden of Maine, Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania and Ron Kind of Wisconsin — and the type of Republican candidates to beat them.

50 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump talked out of early Ohio endorsement

Jane Timken at a 2017 Trump rally. Photo: Kyle Mazza/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Donald Trump had to be talked out of making an early endorsement in Ohio's 2022 U.S. Senate race, a sign of his eagerness to reengage politically, people familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

What we're hearing: The former president discussed endorsing former state GOP chair Jane Timken last week during a meeting at Mar-a-Lago with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, but top advisers — including Donald Trump Jr. — urged him to wait.