cleantech insights

The Week in Cleantech – August 20 – 26


Last week saw a distinct focus on biofuel and biochemical technology and project developers by private investors, large corporates, and the federal government. It was disclosed via regulatory filings that Lakewood, CO based ZeaChem had secured $29 million in new Series D financing from undisclosed investors for its cellulosic ethanol technology, while Wilmington, NC based Chemtex received a $99 million loan guarantee from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support development of a cellulosic ethanol biorefinery.

Renmatix, a Pennsylvania based developer of technology for the production of cellulosic sugar intermediaries for biochemicals and biofuels, received $25 million in a Series C round from new investor and strategic partner Waste Management.

And finally, in a big three-way partnership in the biochemical space, BASF has announced a new collaboration with Danish company Novozymes and its long-time partner Cargill to produce acrylic acid from renewable feedstocks. BASF is one of the world’s largest producers of acrylic acid, which is used in the production of polymers and is normally produced from the refining of crude oils.

But there is more to cleantech than just biofuels and chemicals, and last week saw plenty of action in other sectors. Fleet tracking and management …


“Don’t-call-it-cleantech” cleantech investors

Greg Neichin

One of last quarter’s highest profile cleantech deals, agriculture optimization software developer Solum’s $17M round of financing, was led by an investor that apparently was not interested in doing cleantech deals. Andreessen Horowitz, a firm closely associated with consumer internet hits such as Twitter, Skype, Zynga, and GroupOn, led the round with Kleiner Perkins.  This after firm founder Marc Andreessen had previously declared that the fund would not be investing in “cleantech”.

Last week’s latest addition to the camp of cleantech investors who swear that they don’t invest in cleantech is Index Ventures.  Back in June, the firm closed on a new $440M fund.  In an interview with Fortune, Index Partner Mike Volpi declared, “We looked at a lot of [cleantech] deals but didn’t think that many had the same potential as tech deals, because they relied too much on subsidies. We did a couple, including a tire recycling company, but I wouldn’t say that it’s still a focus.”

It may not be a focus, but last week Index put more cleantech money into that “tire recycling company”, otherwise known as Lehigh Technologies as the company raised $16M from Index, Kleiner Perkins, Leaf Clean Energy, and others.

In April, GigaOM …

Industrializing the Industrial Water Market


Aqwise, a fixed biofilm water and wastewater treatment solutions provider, raised $4.5 million in a financing round led by Triveni Engineering & Industries.  More recently, Epuramat, a provider of compact, energy-efficient and chemical-free wastewater treatment solutions, raised over $10 million in a Series B financing round.  These companies are ideal representatives of the stellar investment trends we’ve seen in water lately – not only because they successfully raised funding from the investor community, but because they both provide industrial wastewater treatment solutions.

Last week, Sheeraz Haji (CEO) and I led a webinar focused on the industrial wastewater market (watch a free replay here).  We kicked things off with a quick look at VC trends in water, which included a view of where money is actually going from a technology, application, and target user perspective.  In doing this analysis, I learned that over half (52%) of VC dollars in the first half of 2012 went to companies developing wastewater treatment solutions – more than I had suspected.  Digging deeper into the numbers, it was uncovered that most of these solutions were specifically tailored for industrial users.

The growing appeal of the industrial wastewater treatment market for entrepreneurs and …

The Week in Cleantech – August 13 – 19


News from the previous week of a lifeline investment in A123 Systems by Chinese auto parts giant Wanxiang Group appears to have been confirmed last Friday, when public confirmation that a deal had been struck was released. Reuters reports that the $465 million agreement has given Wanxiang four of nine seats on A123′s board.

KPCB‘s Ray Lane caused a stir last week when he speculated that his firm’s portfolio company, Fisker Automotive could attempt an initial public offering as soon as 2013. The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle maker has been widely rumored to be short on cash despite the $1 billion in private investment it has received to date, and a recent shakeup of its management team coupled with vehicle performance issues and a lack of sales traction has many scratching their heads as to why the company would want public markets peering under its hood just yet.

In venture investment, two companies stuck out with Series B rounds last week. Fort Meade, Florida based JDC Phosphate raised $16.4 million from undisclosed investors. The company is a developer of technology allowing phosphate-rich fertilizers to be used more sustainably, reducing groundwater and surface water pollution.

And leading the charge for …

Where are they now? Rising Stars of the 2011 Global Cleantech 100

Sara Strope

Nine months ago, we unveiled the 2011 Global Cleantech 100 list at a Gala dinner in Washington, DC. These 100 innovators were identified as trailblazers delivering the very best clean technology solutions, companies that, according to the collective judgment of the world’s cleantech industry insiders, were the most likely to make the most significant market impact over the next 5-10 years.

Now in its fourth year, the Global Cleantech 100 has seen some familiar names from year to year, with companies that continue to prove their potential. But, fresh innovation is not to be overlooked.  Last October we heard from 4 companies that were new to the list: RelayRides, SCIenergy, Transphorm, and Voltea.  How have these companies changed over the past ten months?  Have they continued to forge ahead?  Watch the slide show below to get the details…the answer is a resounding YES!

2011 rising stars now from cleantechgroup


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way from the Forum

Sara Strope

The Cleantech Forum San Francisco 2012 focused on global partnerships.  We heard from companies big and small that were working together.  We heard about public-private partnerships that are influencing better buildings and smarter cities.  We even saw some partnerships in action – like that of Ford and SunPower (see the video below).

Today, an alert from our i3 database caught my eye - Urban Green Energy (UGE) and GE have announced a new technology partnership (get whole scoop here).  They unveiled the world’s first integrated wind-powered electric vehicle charging station which pairs UGE’s cutting-edge vertical wind turbines with GE’s electric vehicle (EV) charging technology.  In case you missed it, Urban Green Energy was one of our exhibitors at the Cleantech Forum Eco City.…

The Week in Cleantech – August 6 – 12


Welcome news came for the distressed darling lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems last week, when Chinese auto parts giant Wanxiang Group signed a non-binding MOU to inject up to $450 million in the company through a series of bridge loans, warrants, and convertible notes. Initial estimates suggest Wanxiang would end up holding 80% of the equity in A123 Systems with an investment of that magnitude, and as of this writing on Monday morning, investors seem to be coalescing around the 55 cents per share price tag implied by the terms of the pending deal.

In venture capital, we saw a number of deals transacted with new investors joining rounds last week, and the sectors and technologies targeted by these investments were diverse.

Philadelphia, PA based Viridity Energy raised $15 million in a Series C round from new investor Mitsui Global Investment. Viridity is a developer of a demand response technology platform for the smart grid whose existing investors include Braemar Energy Ventures, Intel Capital, and Novus Energy Partners.

Luxembourg based Epuramat, a provider of innovative water and wastewater treatment solutions for municipal and industrial clients as well as oil-water separation systems, received EUR8.3 million in …

Video: Company of the Week is Aqwise

Whitney Michael

Analyst Troy Ault explains why we chose Aqwise to be the company of the week:…

The Week in Cleantech – July 30 – August 5


The week to August 5 was overflowing with biofuels investment news.


San Diego, California based Genomatica withdrew its much anticipated IPO citing unfavorable market conditions, but simultaneously announced that it had instead upped its private capital with a $41.5 million Series D round. Versalis, the Italian chemical major, was a new strategic investor joining the round. Genomatica becomes only the latest in a string of companies, including solar CSP company BrightSource Energy and coal bed methane producer Luca Technologies to withdraw IPOs from American markets.


Meanwhile, other well-known biofuels innovators tied down private financing, too. Fort Collins, Colorado based Solix BioSystems received $31 million in a Series C round, while Amyris, which went public in September, 2010, negotiated an amendment to its collaboration with French energy giant Total, giving the biofuels and biochemicals company access to an $82 million budget over three years for research and development of renewable diesel and jet fuel.


Elsewhere in green transportation, San Francisco, California based Getaround received a healthy $13.9 million Series A investment from Menlo Ventures. The company’s peer-to-peer car sharing service is one of many to attract the interest of private investors lately, as we saw …