Monday, April 02, 2007

Akermin, Thin Battery, United Villages

Only a few announced new deals over the past week:
  • Enzyme-based fuel cell developer Akermin raised $3.5mm in funding (VentureWire indicates that it was the second tranche of a Series A) to add to a $3mm round from 2005. The company's alcohol-based system has been proven out at a lab level. Someday you might recharge your laptop's fuel cell power supply at the airport bar... Investors in the round included Chrysalix, OnPoint (see more on them below), Prolog Ventures, and the St. Louis Arch Angels.
  • The appropriately-named Thin Battery, which is developing ultrathin carbon zinc batteries, raised a $6.2mm round of financing. SunBridge Partners led the round, which also included Early Stage Partners, Key Capital, Orix Capital, and individual investors. Powering RFID tags and medical devices are the first targeted applications for the company's technology, which can use "traditional printing equipment". The company, which was spun out of Eveready in 2002, has raised "nearly $8mm."
  • Here's a neat marriage of solar power and IT: United Villages is using wifi-enabled buses (or motorcycles, or even a donkey, according to AlarmClock) to drive through rural areas, downloading and delivering emails to and from solar-powered computer kiosks that have been installed in isolated villages (residents pay per use of the kiosk). Omidyar Network, Cambridge Light & Power, and Gray Matters Capital Foundation provided $2mm in Series A financing for the endeavor.
Cleantech investors in the news:
  • Emerald Technology Ventures announced a final close on their 135mm euro cleantech-focused venture fund. LPs in this latest fund included Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, GIMV of Belgium, Rabobank of The Netherlands, Axpo Holding of Switzerland, Springbridge Limited (Advised by Consensus Business Group) of UK, Credit Suisse of Switzerland, Deere & Co., DSM Venturing of The Netherlands, Dow Chemical Co., KPC Energy Ventures, Inc. of Kuwait, Piper Jaffray Private Capital, Suncor Energy Inc. (Canada), Unilever Technology Ventures Advisory Company LLC, and Volvo Technology Transfer AB of Sweden. Emerald has already made two investments out of the fund, in Identec Solutions AG and Vaperma.
  • It may be impossible to find a conference these days that Vinod Khosla isn't keynoting, but you have to admit he's putting his (firm's) money where his mouth is. Here's a helpful list of his 26 portfolio investments thus far. It's especially interesting to note the internal distinction made between "sugar/corn fuels", "cellulosic", and "future fuels."
  • Regular readers of this site will have noticed how active OnPoint Technologies has been in the energy technology space recently. So it's interesting to note the top column on this PE Week Wire from Tuesday...
  • A new nanotech-focused firm, NanoDimension, closed on a $60mm first fund. Nanotech, as we've discussed before, has a lot of potential cleantech-related applications.
Other news and notes: More good analysis of the challenges of water tech investing... More and more students looking to get into cleantech (which probably explains why readership of this site is pretty high these days) -- so check out this column, which is still pretty relevant... Finally, here's a good cleantech April Fool's Day joke.


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