Is Your Investment in that Startup worth it?
Global Warming and climate change are the most pressing issues before mankind today. Green catalysis and engineering, efficient use of energy and resources and waste elimination and recycling have hence emerged as hot topics in process engineering. The movement and public perception against oil and gas, plastics and non-renewables. This has also led to birth of a number of technology start-ups, entrepreneurs and process developers who claim to have developed or near-developed break-through advances (novel catalysis, process or both). A vast majority of these ideas are just not commercially viable (they assume efficiencies and operation beyond thermodynamic boundaries, ignore safety and responsible care concerns or just forward an idea that has already been tested and was not successful). We recently helped a venture capital firm analyze the investment in a plastics pyrolysis company that was created by a 70-year-old retired engineer who was a former VP of a major petroleum company. The net emissions per unit mass of the product from such process, was estimated to be 6 X the emission intensity of current state-of-the-art.
To the intelligent investor, technology screening and cost assessment (evaluation of cost to develop, troubleshoot, scale, and market such a technology) hence is an essential tool that shields them from risk and enables them to make wise decisions.