Friday, February 22, 2013

If You Can’t Fix It, Feature It

Some years back as I labored over due diligence on a prospective banking client, the CEO summed up the company’s strategy to deal with product design flaws.  In the most serious tone, he says, “if you cannot fix it, feature it.”  Oddly, it makes sense.  Why spend oodles of money trying in vain to change a design, when you can spend just a pinch of money convincing customers that the offending attribute is actually desirable.

The Department of Energy appears to be using the same play book.  Besides providing financial support for the industrial carbon capture projects, the DOE has put a fair amount of money down on “Innovative Concepts for Beneficial Carbon Dioxide Use.”  The DOE has decided that if you cannot reduce carbon emissions, then why not turn the toxic output of industrial and power generation into something valuable. In 2010, twelve projects received $17.4 million in funding during the first phase of the program and another $82.6 million was set aside for six of the projects that moved on to the second phase. 

Technology has been a widely successful investment theme and the government has been the pre-eminent sponsor of innovation.  Indeed, the U.S. government and its various agencies have been behind a wide range of disruptive technologies, from TCP/IP, the computer code running the Internet, to ceramic dishware and instant orange beverage.   This group of ‘carbon’ innovators should be a cornucopia of innovation and value generation.  The next few posts will highlight few of the ‘carbon’ value creators and try to figure out if there is another ‘Tang’ in the mix.
Companies in the Carbon Innovation Race:
Alcoa, Inc.
U.S. Nels
CO2 Solutions Inc.
Strategic Solutions Inc.
U.S. Concrete
Novomer, Inc.
Phycal, Inc.
SSOE Engineering
GE Global Research
Aqua Engineers
AgroSystems, Inc.
Pacific Renewable Fuels
Clean Energy Systems Inc. 
Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR)
Süd Chemie
Skyonic Corporation
Capitol Aggregates
RDB Environmental Consulting
Wm Smith and Co.
Sun Ridge Algae
URS Group
Texas Lehigh Cement Company
GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.

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