Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Clean Sweep 22

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

The UK's Low Carbon Accelerator has led a C$21.5m second round in Canadian ethanol tech firm Vaperma. Volvo Technology Transfer also joined the round in its first parallel investment alongside its cleantech partner Emerald Technology Ventures, a first-round backer of Vaperma. Existing investors BDC Capital, and FIDD also increased their funding.
Vaperma is developing a gas separation membrance technology for removing water from ethanol, replacing the current energy-intensive steam distillation process. The firm's Siftek technology is primarily aimed at Brazilian sugarcane alcohol and North American grain ethanol producers, and promises to take around seven cents off the costs of a gallon of ethanol.

A clutch of overseas early-stage deals show the role of tech transfer from universities:
Eco-plastics company Novomer raised $6.6m from Physic Ventures and Flagship Ventures. The New York firm is developing biodegradeable polymers based on cheap feedstocks including carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. The tech was developed by co-founder Geoffrey Coates at Cornell University.
US biocatalyst firm Akermin raised $5m in the second phase of its first round (this is somehow distinct from a small second round, I'm sure). All previous investors, including Prolog Ventures, OnPoint Technologies, Chrysalix Energy and the St Louis Arch Angel Network, increased their stakes. Akermin is developing a stabilised enzyme catalyst technology developed at St Louis University which can potentially replace heavy metals in biofuel cells.
In the solar arena, thin film developer SixTron Advanced Materials raised a C$10m first round led by Canadian VC Ventures West. Seed investors iNovia Capital, Innovatech sud du Qu├ębec, and FIDD also joined in. The Quebec university spin-out is commercialising what it calls a highly innovative and cost-effective method of depositing silicon carbide films on a range of substrates.
Israeli spin-out Distributed Solar Power raised $1.2m from TN Ventures and Aurum Ventures MKI. The funding goes towards the first industrial-scale model of DISP's CHP solar concentrator system.
And printed electronics group Plextronics has raised an extra $4m from Applied Ventures, the VC arm of Applied Materials. The top-up follows a $20.6m second round announced two months ago. Pennsylvania-based Plextronics is developing printed electronic technology based on tech developed at Carnegie Mellon university, with applications including printed solar cells.

Elsewhere, a $3m bridge round for this week's winner of the all-California silly name contest, Fat Spaniel. The firm provides software and hardware that helps renewable energy suppliers monitor efficiency and count their carbon-saving credits. The company raised $7m from DFJ Element and Chrysalix Energy in its first round a year ago, and is aiming for a full-scale $20m second round.

Fund news
UK mid-market buyout house Gresham Private Equity has set up a dedicated energy and environmental team. The two-pronged team will cover investments in the oil and gas industry and the greaner fields of energy management and minimisation, waste management and recycling. Partner Christian Bruning and research/origination manager Peter Lahoud lead the cleantech side.

As detailed below, veteran tech VC KPCB and specialist investor Generation Investment Management have teamed up in a new London-based greentech alliance. Al Gore's involvement in Generation has ensured plenty of media coverage, and should draw the attention of other potential investors to the funds.

European renewables specialist Enercap Capital Partners has announced the first closing of its EnerCap Power Fund I at Euro75m. The Prague-based fund invests in power projects across Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe

Israel Cleantech Ventures has launched a new seed-stage initiative in association with US VC Greylock Partners's Israel Fund. Cleanstart will back concept-stage ventures or university spin-outs across the cleantech sector.

No comments: