Luis Aguirre-Torres

Innovation Essential to the Future of Clean Energy

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 09:27

When operating within an industry that relies heavily on innovative changes, it is important that innovation is proactively promoted. By helping to provide the environment that inspiration requires to flourish and by rewarding those who bring the best ideas to the table, GreenMomentum hopes to encourage the innovation that the clean energy sector needs in order to realize its full potential.

There is a continued interest in clean technology (cleantech) in Mexico, enough so that GreenMomentum is focused on market intelligence for these forms of energy generation. Now that the Energy Reform will enforce renewable energyrelated targets, the company’s customers are realizing the viability of cleantech, providing a welcome boost to GreenMomentum’s pool of business opportunities. Luis Aguirre-Torres, CEO of GreenMomentum, believes that distributed solar energy generation is the future. However, solar companies are still faced with the challenge of raising the necessary capital, meaning they are forced to opt for creative leasing options. This is where the Fund for Sustainable Energy comes in. Approved by Mexico’s Ministry of Energy and CONACYT, the Fund for Sustainable Energy will help GreenMomentum to finance more pureplay cleantech SMEs, as well as promote the development of disruptive technologies. The initial idea behind the fund was to bolster innovation, but unfortunately, there were some problems with missing funds, as Aguirre-Torres points out. “The money invested from 2008 to 2012 has just gone, meaning that the innovation that we expected to see never surfaced.” According to the company’s CEO, the first call of business for GreenMomentum is to discover what went wrong with the fund, and to ensure it does not fall victim to previous mistakes

To combat this less than favorable perception of the fund, GreenMomentum has affiliated itself with Cleantech Challenge Mexico (CTCM). For the last five years, CTCM has promoted economic development by pitting cleantech entrepreneurs against one another in an annual competition for innovation. The initiative also provides services that facilitate the progression of ideas into viable business models in Mexico and Latin America. AguirreTorres considers CTCM to be a useful pipeline for the fund, as it allows participating developers of disruptive technology to return to GreenMomentum in order to seek development financing after the competition is over.

Another of the keys to entrepreneurial success within any industry is the formation of business clusters, something that GreenMomentum hopes to facilitate with the help of the Mexican Technology Platform (MTP). The company wants to work in Puebla, Queretaro, and State of Mexico to create a cluster that is focused on energy efficiency; however, the Fund for Sustainable Energy will not play a part in its inception. “I do not think the fund is an appropriate vehicle for creating clusters,” says Aguirre-Torres. “Besides, INADEM has regional programs that could finance their creation within municipalities as long as they provide a comprehensive report on the region’s strengths.” When combined with the changes laid out in the Energy Reform, GreenMomentum’s cluster could attract Corporate Venture companies looking to invest in and develop their own supply chains in Mexico. Aguirre-Torres cites the Mexico-US Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council (MUSEIC) as being particularly favorable for both GreenMomentum’s cluster ambitions and the industry in general. “MUSEIC produces extremely innovative ideas because those at the helm are not concerned with losing their jobs if they make a bad decision. One of its subcommittees recently obtained about US$2.6 million to finance the iCluster project. This project is relevant to GreenMomentum as it is represents an easy-to-replicate model for financing the creation of energy clusters.”

GreenMomentum’s reasons for actively incentivizing innovation in Mexico are clear, especially when its CEO describes the country as having “no culture of innovation and no infrastructure for innovation”. Now that the reforms have passed, he believes that these will play a role in guaranteeing a more competitive market. “The country has had consistent problems with sophistication across the whole of the clean energy sector. Young entrepreneurs are now bringing a higher level of sophistication to the supply chain and the distribution network, giving them a competitive advantage over SMEs.” Aguirre-Torres explains that even though public universities have the resources, the funds, the incentives, and the people needed to bring more sophistication to Mexico, their resistance toward the release of new patents for their cutting-edge technology is holding the country back.

By taking decisive control over the Fund for Sustainable Energy, using it to nurture those with new ideas, uniting businesses in a collaborative cluster, and rewarding those who drive the industry forward, GreenMomentum is making great strides towards its goal of bringing innovation to the forefront of the clean energy industry