Thursday, 18 October 2007

Clean Sweep 19

A round-up of recent news in clean technology and cleantech investment.

In what it's calling one of Europe's largest growth cleantech deals of the year, London's Zouk Ventures has led a Euro53.4m round in specialist waste management group SiC Processing. Merrill Lynch Corporate Principal Investments Group, CC Private Equity Partners, Masdar Clean Tech Fund, and Foursome Investments also invested, alongside existing investors and the founding Heckmann family.
Based in Bavaria, SiC runs recycling plants in Germany, Italy, Norway, China and the US for the solar and semiconductor wafer industries. The group's patented hydrocyclone technology takes the slurry used in the wafer cutting process and separates off valuable silicon carbide from its glycol base. The new funding goes towards further international expansion.

Otherwise, US companies dominated the week's investment. Norwegian VC Convexa Capital led a $28m investment in Californian thin-film silicon developer Innovalight. Norwegian tech developer Scatec also joined the round, alongside existing venture investors Apax Partners, ARCH Venture Partners, Sevin Rosen Funds, Triton Ventures and Harris & Harris.
Innovalight uses a proprietary silicon nanocrystalline ink to produce ultra-thin solar modules for residential and commercial use, potentially at a tenth of the cost of conventional cells. The new funding round, the firm's third, goes towards a new 30,000 sq ft manufacturing facility.

Solar power electronics firm SmartSpark Energy Systems raised an undisclosed first round from tech specialist Battery Ventures. The Illinois firm's SolarBridge product aims to simplify solar panel installation by integrating the inverter (used to convert DC from the cells into usable AC) into the panel itself.

Wind industry supplier TPI Composites raised a $22m first round led by specialist VC NGP Energy Technology Partners. The Rhode Island firm manufactures customised blades for wind turbines, with operations in Mexico and China, as well as products for transport and military vehicle applications.

Water filtration start-up Stonybrook Purification announced a $4.1m first round involving new investors Modern Water and TianDi Growth Capital and seed investors Battery Ventures and T2 Venture Capital. A spin-out from Stony Brook University, New York, the firm retains an intellectual vibe - their website is skimpy on details of their tech, which promises to increase liquid flow across filtration membranes, but does prominently feature a WH Auden quotation.

And 'intelligent grid' company GridPoint raised a $48.5m fourth round led by Goldman Sachs. The Washington DC business has developed an IT-based platform to help electric suppliers manage varyign supply and demand. The system also allows easy integration of new clean technologies such as plug-in hybrid vehicles and fuel cells.

Fund news
Nordic tech investor Provider Venture Partners has launched a new cleantech fund in association with Finnish state-backed investment agency Sitra. The fund will invest primarily in Finland and Sweden, and has a target close of Euro100-160m.

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