Cleantech Startups See The 'Smart City' As New Avenue For Investment

After years as a venture-capital pariah, clean-technology startups are rebranding themselves to capitalize on the quest to build a smart city.

Cleantech companies, whose missions are broadly linked to environmental improvement, are benefiting as municipalities around the world embrace smart cities — where internet-connected devices collect data that can be used to address challenges from energy efficiency to traffic, crime and public health.

The smart city market, expected to balloon to $1.57 trillion by 2020, according to a 2014 report from research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, is a way for cleantech startups to revive venture interest after the sector's reputation suffered from failed experiments in areas like solar panels and biofuels in the 2000s.