Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Seven clean VCs

A brief introduction to some prominent venture capital investors in UK clean technology companies. Should you be looking to raise funding for your cleantech business, these would be good people to talk to:

Carbon Trust
The quango charged with encouraging emissions cuts also invests in low-carbon technologies. The Trust invests only a small amount itself (£250k-£1.5m, in UK companies only), but always invests alongside commercial VCs who get the added value of its specialist knowledge and experience. It's the main reason why almost half of UK cleantech deals have some public sector investment. The Carbon Trust also backs specialised cleantech incubators, and considers investments in third party funds with a clean focus.

DFJ Element
Backed by the financial heft and reach of American VC giant Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Element is a leading global cleantech specialist. With total funds of $292m, Element typically invests from $3-5m in early-stage ventures through to $10-15m for later-stage opportunities. Although focused on the US, the team can access deals worldwide through DFJ's office network.

Environmental Technologies Fund
A specialist cleantech investor based in London, ETF claims to be Europe's first dedicated cleantech fund backed entirely by financial institutions. It closed its first fund in late 2006 at over Euro50m. No announced investments as yet, but it's looking to lead deals at the post-revenue stage, investing Euro5-12m over several rounds.

E-Synergy
Tech specialist E-Synergy recently launched the £30m Sustainable Technology Fund, one of the first of the government-backed Enterprise Capital Funds. The STF is an early-stage technology fund, at least half of which must be targeted at companies developing 'sustainable technologies' in rounds of £500k-2m.

Foresight Venture Partners
An award-winning technology venture capital trust (VCT) manager, the former VCF Partners has shifted its focus to sustainable investment. Foresight boasts experience in cleantech sectors such as recycling, waste-to-energy, biofuels and CHP. The Kent-based group invests from early stage up to buyouts, investing up to £3m alone or in syndicated deals.

3i
The grandaddy of UK venture capital has plunged into the cleantech pool with a nominated team from their technology sector business (disclosure - I've worked with the team on their promotional material). The 3i investment remit stretches from venture level through to infrastructure plays, although it's currently seeing most cleantech opportunity at the later growth stages. The group prides itself on its international network, and is targeting emerging markets such as China and India as both a market for portfolio companies and as a source of new investments.

Zouk
A dotcom survivor turned cleantech specialist, Zouk was launched in 1999 (which might explain the wacky name) and soon entered the emerging carbon market. In 2006, it launched its dedicated Cleantech Europe fund, focusing on growing companies with Euro2-10m revenue and proven technology. Direct investments are typically in the Euro5-10m range, but Zouk also joins and leads syndicates for larger rounds.


If you've any thoughts on these or any other cleantech VCs, please leave your comments below or email me at cleanventures@2ubh.com.

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