19 March 2013 | Leon Wong
Japan has an incredibly strong history of innovation. Yet the country too often starts out with dominant market share only to lose leadership as the pace of innovation quickens.
For example, its world market share of Lithium-ion Batteries (LiB) for mobile and portable devices declined ~60% in 19 years. Solar panels ~30% in 4 years. DRAMs ~55% in 15 years. DVD players ~70% in 9 years. LCDs ~80% in 7 years. Car navigation systems ~80% in 5 years. In none of these industries has any meaningful market share loss been recovered. Now, their world market share in Lithium-ion batteries (LiB) for vehicles has dropped ~20% in the past 5 years. While Japan’s share is still a robust ~80%, Japan’s track record forebodes an unhappy ending.
In light of this history, I recently attended the Battery Japan 2013 conference (part of Japan’s World Smart Energy Week 2013, which drew over 75,000 ...
15 November 2012 | Leon Wong
The Cleantech Open 2012 Global Forum, the spectacular “Academy Awards of Cleantech,” is one of the industry’s premier cleantech entrepreneurship events, drawing entrepreneurs, business leaders, government officials, and media from all over the world as both attendees and exhibitors.
I have been attending this event for the last few years and this year I was one of eight judges (from the investment, industry and academia communities) for the final round of the Air, Water, Waste category award. Eight startups presented and answered our questions in front of a live spectator audience. However, after the last company pitch, the audience and companies were shuffled out of the room while we deliberated on ranking the startups and choosing the winner. What happens in a judging room stays in the judging room. Seriously though, I have several key takeaways that will be useful for entrepreneurs in any industry.
Know your limitations
Specifically, knowing ...
30 November 2011 | Leon Wong
Billing itself as the world’s largest annual water quality exhibition, the 84th Annual Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) draws 20,000 people from all over the world and has almost 1000 exhibitors. Because the show provided an opportunity to meet with a wide spectrum of wastewater players -- from utilities, corporations, manufacturer reps, and consultants to investors, analysts, and non-profits -- I wanted to share some of what I heard while showcasing our hydrodynamic separation (HDS) technology platform. Especially because I think the comments reflect the nature of innovation in the wastewater industry today.
15 September 2011 | Leon Wong
Many cleantech businesses -- despite their capabilities, technical advantages, and bankability -- are being forced into one price war after another, causing margins to erode, valuations to drop, and in some cases, businesses to close. An offering might be patented and have a unique design, but it may be a commodity. This is especially the case in cleantech, where the final end product is typically electricity, clean water, fuel, or light: a commodity. Commoditization happens. The key is discerning early warnings, and tackling commoditization through strategic innovation.
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