Monday, June 12, 2006

Virent, FriCSo, Irish Polymers and other Monday notes

Biofuels and bio-derived fuels are in the spotlight now, even eclipsing solar in the hype cycle. Case in point, see the telling quote from Christopher Flavin of Worldwatch (which just released what appears to be a very useful report about the potential for the industry):
"You'd have to be an idiot not to make money out of biofuels."
That seems to sum up the current general attitude on the space quite well... Thus, upcoming ethanol IPOs and a lot of other investor interest (FYI, see this handy list of all U.S. ethanol plants operating and in construction -- thanks to Mark Wendman for pointing this out). Of course, Flavin was probably referring to operators, and not investors. There's a right price for everything, and even if the price deserves to be high, it's quite possible to overpay... In any case, hot times in biofuels right now. What will be the next cleantech darling after ethanol and solar?

Recent cleantech dealflow of note:
  • Virent, which is developing technology to convert biomass into hydrogen, has raised a $7.5mm round of financing, including participation from strategic investors Cargill and Honda. Existing institutional investors include Venture Investors and Advantage Capital Partners (which has also invested in GridPoint and Hoku Scientific in the clean energy space) put in $1.6mm into the company last year as well.
  • FriCSo, a U.S.-Israel company which is developing solutions to reduce friction in engines (to improve energy efficiency) announced a $5mm second round recently, with Aviv Venture Capital putting in around $4mm of the round, for a $20mm post-money. The company had previously raised $3mm.
Other news to note: Great recap by Dan Primack (who also gave the heads-up on FriCSo) of the recent "Energy Investing in a Carbon-Constrained World" conference. Having worked at WRI in the past, it was great to see the keynote was given by environmental stalwart Jonathan Lash... In other investor conference news, interesting to see VCs plugging nuclear power. Clean or not, let that debate rage elsewhere, but it's tough to think about what would be a venture-backable play in nuclear. If you think of something, tell Peter Wagner... Finally, if you enjoyed the recent coverage of Tesla Motor's financing, here's a follow-up Q&A with the CEO.


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