More Cleantech IPO Prepping in A123’s Wake?

The market’s positive reception to last month’s IPO of battery maker A123 Systems has venture capitalists abuzz with optimism about doing more cleantech IPOs.

Jim Watson, managing general partner of CMEA Capital, is part of that group. The firm, which was a later-stage investor in A123, has about 15 active cleantech investments in its portfolio. Watson says a couple of those are looking at filing to go public in the “in the next couple months.”

Which ones? Watson didn’t say. One obvious candidate, based on others’ IPO predictions, is solar panel maker Solyndra, which has raised a whopping $512 million in venture funding to date. The firm also fits the criteria that Watson says a cleantech firm needs to go public in the current environment: a proven technology, a product that’s attracted customers and long term contracts, as well “considerable government funding.”

Overall, Watson says he doesn’t expect to see an IPO gold rush, but that there are about ten companies in the cleantech space that are ready to go public. Companies that made his list that aren’t in CMEA’s portfolio include Tesla Motors and Silver Spring Networks. If those companies make it out successfully, he says, then companies that aren’t quite as well established should also get a shot.

“Right now the bar is still pretty high,” he says. “But if in six months (after IPO) those stocks are still up, then the bar will likely get lowered.”

That said, CMEA’s optimism on the cleantech front is tempered. The firm recently tabled plans for a cleantech growth fund, targeting later stage investments.