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What Is Cleantech & How Can You Launch A Career In The Sector?

Cleantech is a field that’s growing ever more important amid a shift towards a greener economy. Here’s how you can launch a career in cleantech

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Tue Dec 5 2023

BusinessBecause
Today, the world faces a challenge that looks increasingly insurmountable. The COP26 target to limit global warming to 1.5 C appears under threat—2023 is likely to become a record-breaking year for global temperatures.

Within this context, movements towards a greener economy, incorporating more sustainable commercial practices that promote business as a force for positive social impact, are gathering pace.

Cleantech is among the most prominent of these movements. Encompassing a variety of industries, functions, and technologies, cleantech is an innovation-led field aimed at solving the world’s key decarbonization challenges.

“Cleantech is a very broad technological field as it cuts across disciplines and industries, and concerns everything from cutting down consumption, circular solutions, changing production methods, and the use or production of energy,” explains Stine Haakonsson, associate professor at Copenhagen Business School.

Growing ever more important each year, in 2022 the Global Cleantech 100 top companies raised $6.7 billion. The industry is also becoming a burgeoning area of opportunity for business school graduates.


Cleantech: Cross-industry solutions for global problems

With the climate crisis an existential threat felt across all business sectors, cleantech is therefore a term used to define a range of cross-functional and cross-sector solutions.

Among the leading companies within the sector, you’ll find those specializing in agriculture, energy, materials, and transportation and logistics. That’s alongside those working on developing technologies to enable change.

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Often reliant on collaboration, active participants within cleantech extend beyond just companies, with public organizations and academic institutions also part of a wider ecosystem that’s key to finding solutions.

“Most of the radical solutions are to be made in such cross-sectoral and cross-industrial collaborations,” explains Stine (pictured). 

A focus on solutions means companies operating in the cleantech space typically emphasize innovation. Many of the key players are small, agile, less established firms.

“It’s a space where we see a lot of innovation with a lot of smaller, thriving companies,” explains Andreas Rasche, professor of Business in Society at the CBS Centre for Sustainability and associate dean for the CBS Full-Time MBA.

Though, he adds, large multinationals share the same issues and are increasingly focusing on business model shifts to achieve a more sustainable future.

There are 19 countries among the Global Cleantech 100, however the US leads the way with the most firms in the list, while Canada follows behind. Their prominence is due to the large amounts of venture capital funding they have available for cleantech startups.

Countries with a strong tradition of sustainability are also prominent within the sector, including the likes of The Netherlands, Denmark, and Finland.


What career opportunities are available in cleantech?

Increasing prominence means each year cleantech is attracting MBA graduates looking for impactful careers where they can turn their talents towards benefiting the planet, as well as their paycheck.

In 2022, energy and cleantech were among the most popular industries for graduates from the Copenhagen Business School Full-time MBA.

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“It’s an area with lots of opportunities for business school students, in particular those students that want to combine entrepreneurship with sustainability,” explains Andreas (pictured).

With such a vast range of areas comprising the field, students can launch cleantech careers across multiple sectors and functions.

Focus on renewable solutions means that students can land opportunities with specialist firms that produce solar or wind solutions, for example. Likewise, circular goods companies that aim to eliminate waste through the reuse, refurbishment, recycling, or remanufacture of goods can provide job opportunities.

Larger firms often house teams that focus on intrapreneurial solutions to achieve their sustainability goals, this can be a source of opportunities for grads who’d prefer to work for a more established company.

The global sustainability shift means opportunities in the cleantech space are likely to increase moving forward. Regulatory pressure is forcing companies’ hands when it comes to sustainable practices. As the price of sustainable solutions falls, it’s also becoming a significant area where companies can gain a competitive advantage.

With such a wealth of options, choosing the type of company to work for is a fundamental question grads should ask themselves, thinks Andreas.

“Are you more of a startup person who can deal with a lot of uncertainties and changes? Or are you more of a person who integrates well into existing hierarchies, who can accept that things move a little slower?”


How to launch a career in cleantech?

So, what’s required to successfully embark on a career in the cleantech sector? Cleantech poses a significantly different path to other MBA sectors such as finance, where opportunities are concentrated among established companies and innovation is less of a priority.

MBA grads who are agile, have a growth mindset, and are comfortable with managing change have good prospects within the sector. A strong understanding of the fundamentals of business will also help grads enact the changes at a business model level that companies require.

Those with resilience and leadership skills have a strong chance of success, explains Andreas: “It’s not a normal job, where you just manage something quite steadily—you have lots of ups and downs. This, of course, requires a certain degree of self-management.”

As a fundamental challenge that touches on global, political, economic, and social issues, knowledge of the broader context surrounding sustainability is perhaps the most important requirement for students aiming to enter cleantech, he adds.

Those who can adopt these various elements will be able to embark on a career path that not only houses many opportunities for professional growth, but also the sense of personal achievement that comes with making a positive impact.

Student Reviews

Copenhagen Business School (CBS)

Student

Verified

29/09/2019

CBS: efficient international network

CBS has always been ranked among the best universities in Europe and this means that it has become a sign of professionalism and success. The academic level is great thanks to the good teachers and the atmosphere is proactive and challenging. Lots of events are planned every week and this helps you to find your own way. CBS is not only a business school, it is a great and efficient international network.

Stella

Verified

24/04/2019

Good academic career

I did my Bachelors at CBS and their academic excellence and career opportunities led me to pursue my Masters in Accounting, Strategy and Control. I was very lucky to go on an exchange in Singapore for one semester it boosted me to get a career in a global firm. I like that it is super modern and has all the facilities for the business student in 2019. Especially, I liked the library and Bitlab where I spent most of my time studying. However, note that it is very demanding and studying here is no joke. Everything is very competitive and you are among the most excellent business students in the country. The interaction with international students helped me to see different perspectives in business and culturally and I was lucky to make friends from any part of the world. CBS is like a brand in Denmark. Every serious business company prioritizes us over any other Danish university and also it is free for European citizens. Overall, I have a very satisfying experience at CBS and I'm looking to continue my academical career even further.

Student

Verified

13/04/2019

CBS is one of the best!

All I have to say regarding my experience at CBS is that it is AMAZING. Having been tutored by world-class academic staff, I can definitely support that I am receiving the best of quality regarding my studies in Digital Marketing. Staff is very friendly and easy to approach. In addition, the facilities we enjoy are top class and meet any demands. Keep in mind that, EU citizens do not pay any fees. Student life might be non-existent here, but the location of the University in The very center of Copenhagen has a huge variety of choices to offer to students regarding their entertainment. Accommodation might be a problem, but early research of the market can be very useful. In addition, the University promotes diversity. In CBS University you can meet people from the whole world which is quite interesting. I definitely suggest CBS for any student who he's interested in pursuing a career in marketing or business.

Stefani

Verified

12/04/2019

The ideal business school

I have been enrolled in this university for 2 semesters. What I took from this experience is that there is nothing better out there for those looking for professional growth while being guided by some of the top-notch professors in Scandinavia. They have a really strong focus in technology and digital transformation and they are up to date to guarantee you land a job in the modern fast-evolving world. They also embrace diversity which means many students come from any part of the world and it takes the entire learning experience to another level. You simply learn from every other student cause everyone has different experiences and background which makes you open your mind and see the world from a different angle. In Denmark, even businesses prioritize people who graduate from CBS as it's commonly perceived as the most prestigious university for business graduates.

José Pedro

Verified

22/09/2019

A Place of Personal Growth

In CBS you can expect an environment of proactive thinking and growth. The university staff is always open to help and to debate. The teaching methods balance theoretical knowledge and practical skills enabling the student with capacity and confidence to enter the job market successfully. The existence of students from all over the world stimulates discussion and promotion of different cultures, ideas and perspectives. I highly recommend this university for students in business-related areas.

Cathy

Verified

5/02/2019

Environment

The environment here is really great. Despite the well organized buildings and libraries, there are also places for students to just stay and relax also even study in the corners of each campus. The professors are mostly really nice and try to interact with students a lot. So, to sum up, the environment is really nice for studying here.

Philip

Verified

15/04/2018

Quality education

Quality education where it emphazises the importance of academic. No finger to put on this aspect of the school. However, sometimes the administration and IT can be lacking a bit, but in general a really good choice for education!

Student

Verified

27/09/2017

Best Time!

Classes are challenging and conducted in a professional manner. CBS offers a wide range of possibilities to develop outside of the classes! Libraries and other facilities on the campus are very well adjusted to the student needs.

Student

Verified

22/09/2017

A heavily theory-based curriculum combined with an ever-stimulating environment

I am currently a Master student at CBS, but I have also completed a Bachelor's Degree in this university. I am quite satisfied with my studies and the teaching level. However, when compared to other business schools, it becomes apparent that most courses at CBS strive to find a good balance between theoretical insight and real-life examples. Compared to my exchange university, the projects that I have found myself writing at CBS have a far less practical application and also leave little room for creativity. If the teaching is heavily theoretical, on the bright side, the university arranges a number of events throughout the year to encourage students to apply their knowledge, in the form of career fairs, case competitions, and other events organized by student associations. In my experience, teachers are very easily approachable and happy to answer your questions. A foreign student like me will find a more international environment at Master level, since the number of international (or at least non-Scandinavian) students enrolled in the Bachelor programs is quite low. However, all communication (both oral and written) from teachers and the university offices is always in English. Administrative offices, student guidance services, the career center, and the international office are definitely worth a mention. All of the requests that I have had throughout the years have always been met with kindness, promptness and efficiency.

Student

Verified

29/09/2019

CBS: efficient international network

CBS has always been ranked among the best universities in Europe and this means that it has become a sign of professionalism and success. The academic level is great thanks to the good teachers and the atmosphere is proactive and challenging. Lots of events are planned every week and this helps you to find your own way. CBS is not only a business school, it is a great and efficient international network.

Stella

Verified

24/04/2019

Good academic career

I did my Bachelors at CBS and their academic excellence and career opportunities led me to pursue my Masters in Accounting, Strategy and Control. I was very lucky to go on an exchange in Singapore for one semester it boosted me to get a career in a global firm. I like that it is super modern and has all the facilities for the business student in 2019. Especially, I liked the library and Bitlab where I spent most of my time studying. However, note that it is very demanding and studying here is no joke. Everything is very competitive and you are among the most excellent business students in the country. The interaction with international students helped me to see different perspectives in business and culturally and I was lucky to make friends from any part of the world. CBS is like a brand in Denmark. Every serious business company prioritizes us over any other Danish university and also it is free for European citizens. Overall, I have a very satisfying experience at CBS and I'm looking to continue my academical career even further.

Student

Verified

13/04/2019

CBS is one of the best!

All I have to say regarding my experience at CBS is that it is AMAZING. Having been tutored by world-class academic staff, I can definitely support that I am receiving the best of quality regarding my studies in Digital Marketing. Staff is very friendly and easy to approach. In addition, the facilities we enjoy are top class and meet any demands. Keep in mind that, EU citizens do not pay any fees. Student life might be non-existent here, but the location of the University in The very center of Copenhagen has a huge variety of choices to offer to students regarding their entertainment. Accommodation might be a problem, but early research of the market can be very useful. In addition, the University promotes diversity. In CBS University you can meet people from the whole world which is quite interesting. I definitely suggest CBS for any student who he's interested in pursuing a career in marketing or business.

Stefani

Verified

12/04/2019

The ideal business school

I have been enrolled in this university for 2 semesters. What I took from this experience is that there is nothing better out there for those looking for professional growth while being guided by some of the top-notch professors in Scandinavia. They have a really strong focus in technology and digital transformation and they are up to date to guarantee you land a job in the modern fast-evolving world. They also embrace diversity which means many students come from any part of the world and it takes the entire learning experience to another level. You simply learn from every other student cause everyone has different experiences and background which makes you open your mind and see the world from a different angle. In Denmark, even businesses prioritize people who graduate from CBS as it's commonly perceived as the most prestigious university for business graduates.

José Pedro

Verified

22/09/2019

A Place of Personal Growth

In CBS you can expect an environment of proactive thinking and growth. The university staff is always open to help and to debate. The teaching methods balance theoretical knowledge and practical skills enabling the student with capacity and confidence to enter the job market successfully. The existence of students from all over the world stimulates discussion and promotion of different cultures, ideas and perspectives. I highly recommend this university for students in business-related areas.

Cathy

Verified

5/02/2019

Environment

The environment here is really great. Despite the well organized buildings and libraries, there are also places for students to just stay and relax also even study in the corners of each campus. The professors are mostly really nice and try to interact with students a lot. So, to sum up, the environment is really nice for studying here.

Philip

Verified

15/04/2018

Quality education

Quality education where it emphazises the importance of academic. No finger to put on this aspect of the school. However, sometimes the administration and IT can be lacking a bit, but in general a really good choice for education!

Student

Verified

27/09/2017

Best Time!

Classes are challenging and conducted in a professional manner. CBS offers a wide range of possibilities to develop outside of the classes! Libraries and other facilities on the campus are very well adjusted to the student needs.

Student

Verified

22/09/2017

A heavily theory-based curriculum combined with an ever-stimulating environment

I am currently a Master student at CBS, but I have also completed a Bachelor's Degree in this university. I am quite satisfied with my studies and the teaching level. However, when compared to other business schools, it becomes apparent that most courses at CBS strive to find a good balance between theoretical insight and real-life examples. Compared to my exchange university, the projects that I have found myself writing at CBS have a far less practical application and also leave little room for creativity. If the teaching is heavily theoretical, on the bright side, the university arranges a number of events throughout the year to encourage students to apply their knowledge, in the form of career fairs, case competitions, and other events organized by student associations. In my experience, teachers are very easily approachable and happy to answer your questions. A foreign student like me will find a more international environment at Master level, since the number of international (or at least non-Scandinavian) students enrolled in the Bachelor programs is quite low. However, all communication (both oral and written) from teachers and the university offices is always in English. Administrative offices, student guidance services, the career center, and the international office are definitely worth a mention. All of the requests that I have had throughout the years have always been met with kindness, promptness and efficiency.