DOE into the VC Game

For many a post, I've said the U.S. government needs to get into the Venture Capital game, especially for key advanced sectors critical to the national interest. Well, read this Wall Street Journal piece to get a warm fuzzy that someone, somewhere, is doing something right.

The DOE hopes to lend or give out more than $40 billion to businesses working on "clean technology," everything from electric cars and novel batteries to wind turbines and solar panels. In the first nine months of 2009, the DOE doled out $13 billion in loans and grants to such firms. By contrast, venture-capital firms -- which have long been the chief funders of fledgling tech firms, taking equity stakes in the start-ups that will pay off if they go public -- poured just $2.68 billion into the sector in that time, according to data tracker Cleantech Group.

Thus, while much attention has been focused on the federal government's involvement in banking, Washington also is gaining sway in another swath of the economy. By financing clean-tech ventures on a large scale, the government has become a kingmaker in one of technology's hottest sectors.

I personally think they should take an equity stake, just like private capital, but overall, it sounds good that they are at least evaluating projects like a Venture Capital team and awarding grants and loans accordingly.

Check out this quote:

DOE then came to Fisker with a surprising proposal: Find a U.S. site to build the Kx, and DOE would agree to fund both projects together. Fisker could then start gearing up to make the Kx even before the Karma hit the market. Close advisers to Fisker said the issue of job creation had become key to officials within the administration.

Fisker is a Finnish company, but using U.S. parts, so at least someone somewhere put in a condition to manufacture in the U.S., to create jobs. We need much more of that, conditions that the plants and most importantly the hires will be Americans, put on new ventures to obtain funding.

Still, doesn't this story sure beat caulk?

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