Wednesday, March 14, 2007

MIT Energy 2.0 and other updates

Had the pleasure of attending the MIT Energy 2.0 conference this past weekend, which was really a sign of the times -- a rough count appeared to be 500 people in the room on the main day, which was officially sold out, and rumors were that the previous night's open poster session had brought in 700 participants.

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".
  • 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.
Other news and notes: Future Energy, which gives a good overview of the ongoing transformation of the energy industry, is an interesting read -- especially for any readers who are looking for publicly-traded investment opportunities, since there's a very helpful list of them in the book... A nice picture of Andrew Beebe and some of EI's solar concentrators... Maurice Gunderson wants you to suppress your inner lemming... Clean technologies may not be completely dependent upon favorable governmental policies for success -- but the first country-level legally-binding CO2 emissions targets could be a sign of big shifts to come, with positive implications for cleantech investors... Less positive news overall (but still favorable for cleantech investors) are indications that energy prices will continue to rise... An interesting account of GM's recent battery-related announcements... Finally, somebody pointed me to Ecorazzi recently -- for those who want to combine a passion for cleantech with the guilty pleasures of the checkout line tabloid genre.

1 Comments:

Blogger Mark C Reid said...

Rob,

The GE talk isn't all rhetoric...

Check out: Edison's Desk the blog of GE Global Research.

I'd also recommend you check out some of DuPont's news...

I'm watching fundamental shifts by some companies in the US and Europe (the "multinationals").

Some of these seem to certainly be forward thinking.

I don't think they're prepared to be taken unawares much like the US auto makers (Ford, GM and so forth).

It's certainly exciting times for clean tech and alt energy.

Like your blog.

5:38 PM  

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