Thursday, 2 August 2007

Clean Sweep 9

Fund news
A modest new player on the UK block - Ludgate Investments has launched its new Ludgate Environmental Fund on AIM, raising over £25m to back environmental technology and service companies.
The fund is run by Ludgate's Nick Pople and Nigel Meir. Ludgate has previously advised or raised funds for nine cleantech companies, notably as a founding investor in fuel cell group Ceres Power.

Meanwhile across the Atlantic, cleantech and life science specialist Technology Partners has launched a new $300m investment fund. The Palo Alto firm says it's already tapped the fund, its eighth, for its part in the recent $45m round in Tesla Motors and for a 'stealth solar' investment. The firm's cleantech team, led by general partner Ira Ehrenpreis, focuses on energy and water tech, as well as advanced materials.

Yorkshire-based tidal power business Pulse Generation has secured undisclosed funding from the Viking Fund, a regional co-investment firm backed by the government's Early Growth Fund (thus limited to rounds of up to £250k). Pulse, based at Rotherham's Advanced Manufacturing Park, is currently installing a 100kW £2m prototype tidal generator in the Humber estuary. The firm is understood to be seeking a further £2-5m within the next year to develop a second full-size protoype.

The Carbon Trust has announced a £1m round of seed funding from its Applied Research programme for a range of promising technologies. Projects which may have the potential to attract VC interest as they approach commercialisation include next-generation LEDs from GlowLed Ltd, a natural ventilation system for large buildings from E-stack Ltd, and a steam trap performance sensor from Spirax Sarco Ltd. More details here.

Danish investor BankInvest has announced an investment in German solar start-up O-Flexx, the first from its NES (New Energy Solutions) II fund. Emerald Technology Ventures, Schneider Electric Ventures and Partech International also joined in the round. O-Flexx is developing a proprietary thermo-electric solar system to transform heat into energy.

In a deal that may bear out all the talk about the growth opportunities in developing countries, US water purification company HaloSource has raised a $15m round from Masdar Clean Tech Fund. Although HaloSource currently does most of its business in the domestic recreational market, CEO John Kaestle says the real opportunity is in the developing world. the support of Masdar, which is backed by the government of Abu Dhabi, should provide a short cut into the Middle East and beyond.

Not a VC deal but worth mentioning to illustrate how, as clean technology and green considerations enter the business mainstream, so goes the media. Discovery Communications (best known for the Discovery Channel, of course) has acquired eco-lifestyle blog Treehugger for a reported $10m (although Treehugger whimsically puts the direction of acquisition slightly differently). Treehugger was launched in 2004 with backing from some fairly hefty serial entrepreneurs and now reaches some 1.4 million visitors a month - the low overheads of the blog format presumably helped it grow without having to seek VC money.
Similar offers for this blog will be taken under advisement.

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