MIT Energy 2.0 and other updates
Jeff Immelt, the CEO of GE, gave a compelling keynote in which he described GE's rationale for getting into cleantech, and some of their strategies for targeting the market. Good coverage of his speech here and here. Notably, Immelt wrapped up his talk by making a plea for students at MIT and elsewhere to join GE: "Entrepreneurship and venture capital may be fun, but we see how the story ends. Come with me, and you'll have a front row seat to history."
It was a very good conference, but one hopes that next year's will provide panels with more depth, or even separate "tracks" for research, policy and business -- it's too tough to cover all three disciplines across a broad market category such as biofuels or solar with four or more panelists in just one hour. But it's easy to play Monday morning quarterback even on a terrific event like this one -- many kudos to the organizers.
The New England Energy Innovation Collaborative (NEEIC) took the opportunity to announce the winner of their first annual $150k Business Creation Competition -- StarSolar Corp., which is developing technology for the enhancement of solar panel efficiencies, won the prize and the funding from sponsors General Catalyst, ATV and Atlas Ventures. NEEIC is ramping up their efforts and is building a strong network of cleantech investors and startups in the region.
Other cleantech venture financings this week:
- LS9, which is developing advanced biofuels production technologies, announced a $5mm Series A by Flagship Ventures and Khosla Ventures. Jim Fraser speculates that the company is working on biobutanol or a competitive fuel, but the company website only describes the targets as "proprietary biofuels".
- Solar installer Akeena Solar raised a $4.1mm PIPE with participation by the Westly Group. Speaking of Steve Westly, here's a nice update since we last discussed the formation of the Westly Group.
- A few deals scooped by VentureWire over the past few days: Microwind developer Mariah Power raised a $750k seed round from Sierra Angels and the Keiretsu Forum -- Neal Dikeman recently spoke with the CEO... AgraQuest, which is developing bio-based pesticides, raised an $8mm insider round... and NextDiesel raised a $9mm Series A to help build their first B100 production facility.
- Backup power storage device Gaia Power Technologies announced the close of a first tranche of a $2.9mm Series B, led by GHO Ventures and the NJTC. The company has raised over $5mm (including the full Series B) for their battery-based energy management system.