Silicon Valley Sees Big Profit In China’s Environmental Meltdown – John Boudreau

The San Jose Mercury News has a nicely balanced feature on what China claims is one the biggest factors preventing it from cleaning up its environment–technology transfer–and the California companies looking benefit by addressing it:

Some initiatives are driven by personal reasons. Peggy Liu, a former Silicon Valley Internet executive now living in Shanghai, grew tired of watching her two young boys breathe “black air.”

So Liu, whose home is outfitted with four air filters, created an international network linking academics, government officials, entrepreneurs and investors on both sides of the Pacific to find practical – and profitable – solutions to China’s environmental woes.

“It’s the do-good, save-the-world, on-the-edge, it’s-OK-nobody-has-figured-it-out-before mentality,” said Liu, who in 1996 co-founded an early e-commerce Web site. “I was one of those people.”

The article notes that venture capitalists have increased clean tech investments in China from $7 million in 2004 to $22 million last year. The problem with this? No one knows if China is really serious about the environment (Peggy Liu’s own husband appears later saying China doesn’t care about pollution).

An even bigger problem: Intellectual property theft. “Your intellectual property will be pirated,” the piece quotes the China Alliance’s Charles Freeman as saying. “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. The key is to be constantly innovating.” [Full Text]

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