cleantech insights

This Deal Matters: LanzaTech Raises $60 Million; Corporate Investors Committed to Technology Innovations

Leo Zhang

lanzatechLanzaTech, the Illinois-based technology developer of waste gas fermentation to liquid fuels and chemicals, announced it has raised $60 million in its first close of Series D growth equity round. Mitsui & Co., a leading Japanese multi-industry conglomerate, led the round with a $20 million investment. Given the current difficult capital raising market, this deal is also significant in a sense that it has attracted both new and existing investors. Two new investors, Siemens Venture Capital and China International Capital Corporation, joined the round to further develop LanzaTech’s core gas fermentation platform and increase the company’s product portfolio.

Recall Cleantech Forum San Francisco 2014 on the theme of accelerating system change towards a decentralized future, during which LanzaTech CEO Jennifer Holmgren presented her company’s approach in collaborating with larger corporates to create a synergy between innovations and corporate resources. Combing LanzaTech’s core technology with corporations’ existing infrastructures, this technology platform can empower the decentralized production of renewable fuels and chemicals using existing local waste resources.

Given LanzaTech’s current commercial facilities, in addition to this latest round of investment, we are confident and excited to see additional progress in the future. Stay tuned via Cleantech Group’s i3 Platform for …


This Deal Matters: Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Invests $25 Million in Rennovia for Biochemical Development

Leo Zhang

RennoviaRennovia, the California-based developer of renewable catalyst and chemical technologies, announced last week that Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) has committed to a $25 million equity investment to co-develop bio-based chemical products. Specifically, Rennovia will leverage ADM’s strength in manufacturing in order to reach commercial production of biochemicals utilizing Rennovia’s core processing technology.

Given the recent hurdles in scale-up production across multiple companies in the Biofuels & Biochemicals sector, this deal represents a crucial stage for Rennovia as the company aims to prove its technology and achieve commercialization. This deal is also significant since it further resonates with the growing popularity of biochemicals, as the products have much higher margins compared to commodity-based fuels. As a result of this deal, we expect to see additional updates from the two companies throughout their commercialization journey. Stayed tuned via Cleantech Group’s i3 platform for the latest updates on corporate investments and partnerships in the cleantech space.…

The Week in Cleantech: Sept. 23 – 29


The cleantech space produced several new financing rounds, partnerships, and acquisitions last week. Here’s a recap of some of the top deals:

Khosla Ventures announced that it would invest a further $50 million privately into publicly-traded biofuel maker KiOR. The company has missed production targets in the past but the investment is intended to help the company double capacity. KiOR’s stock price jumped 50 percent on the news.

Local foods start-up Good Eggs raised $8.5 million in a Series A round led by Sequoia Capital and joined by Baseline Ventures and others. The round will fuel expansion beyond the company’s current coverage areas of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, and New Orleans.

Synthetic biology-to-chemicals start-up Synthace raised £1.3 million in seed money from Soffinova Partners‘ Green Seed Fund and angel investors. The company indicated that the funding would help it demonstrate production of chemical products prior to approaching the chemical industry to form partnerships.

Zoltek, a publicly traded manufacturer of advanced carbon fiber products for wind power, efficient vehicles, and other industries, was acquired by Toray for $584 million.

Ormat secured a contract with eBay to construct a recovered energy generation power plant in Utah to support …

The Week in Cleantech: September 16-22

i3 Research Team

Cleantech celebrated the last week of the summer with a number of funding rounds and relationships sprinkled with a bit of bad news. Starting with the less than positive news, ECOtality, the California vendor of electric vehicle supply equipment, has filed for Chapter 11 protection and is seeking to auction off its assets.

On the sunny side, Veremiun, a California developer of high-performance enzymes for us in industrial processes, was acquired by BASF for €48 million (~$62 million). The move will help BASF take on DuPont and Novozymes in the industrial enzyme market. In another instance of a large corporate making waves in this space, Google has purchased the entire output of the 240 MW Happy Hereford wind farm from Chermac Energy. Google will purchase the energy, retire the renewable energy credits and then resell the power on the wholesale market. Another energy generation project inked this week was Pelamis Wave Power and Aquamarine Power working together to develop the largest tidal project in Europe.

On the funding front, eSolar led with the biggest round of the week, raising $22 million from Oak Investment Partners to aid eSolar’s expansion into the MENA region. Cool Planet Energy Systems

Oil & Gas Industry’s Embrace of Clean Technology – Catching Up with Jean-Michel Gires of Chrysalix


The majority perception of the term “cleantech” dictates that folks often think my company, Cleantech Group, must be entirely uninterested in working with large traditional players in the oil & gas (O&G) industry. Indeed, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, our data from i3 and my interview with Jean-Michel Gires, former President & CEO of Total E&P Canada and now the newest Venture Partner at Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital, reveal that the O&G industry is embracing clean technology more closely than ever before.

O&G Corporates Partnering with Proven Innovators

Cleantech start-ups often have it tough. Those developing technologies that require more capital and time to scale than traditional “tech” startups lead some investors to argue that the sector just doesn’t fit the traditional venture capital model. And, like biomedical start-ups, some cleantech start-ups often face highly-regulated or otherwise-entrenched traditional industries where innovation is slower to take root.

It is with this backdrop that we see large O&G companies as important drivers of cleantech innovation. Large balance sheets allow for impactful investments and we’re seeing more and more O&G majors starting to embrace innovation more directly with dedicated venturing arms and co-investments with industry peers (see chart at …

Ever wonder what happens to the cleantech companies you see pitch at Cleantech Forums?

Kate McArdle

At every Cleantech Forum, we give a handful of select cleantech companies the chance to get on stage and pitch their investment opportunities to the audience. Ever wonder if those companies go on to meet investors and secure funding? The answer is yes: companies that present in our Entrepreneur Showcase have gone on to collectively raise over $3.5 billion. But don’t take our word for it. Here’s your chance to hear directly from an executive at one such company.

Frank Roerink is the CFO of Avantium, a leading cleantech company (and a 2010 and 2011 Global Cleantech 100 company) that develops and commercializes the chemical “building blocks” needed for green materials and biofuels. Frank told us that “being able to present Avantium in well-structured showcase sessions allowed us to make connections within the entire cleantech value chain with a broad range of companies.” Want to learn more? Head over to our Entrepreneur Section to read a case study about how Avantium’s participation at Cleantech Forums helped the company secure a EUR 30M round »

Biofuels 2.0: Going back to the future?

Josh Gould

I should start by pointing out I’m not Cleantech Group’s biofuels analyst (my colleague Stephen Marcus in London has that well-deserved title).  Nor do I claim to have deep expertise in biofuels.  My focus is on energy storage and energy efficiency.

But recent developments have led me to pay more attention to biofuels.  The most obvious development is an oil price climbing past $100 a barrel.  By conventional wisdom – about which we should always be skeptical – we are still in the early stages of an economic recovery.  As that recovery strengthens, we typically see upward pressure on the price of oil.  Given that we are “starting” at $100, it seems there is at least the potential for very high oil prices.  And this is to say nothing of potential effects from ongoing political turmoil in the Middle East.

The difficulty for oil companies (or cleantech investors, for that matter) is making investment decisions today about companies, technologies, and refining capacity that will not be fully realized for years.  While few are on record betting on continued high prices, investors are making predictions with their wallets.  Witness recent biofuels deals by major oil companies (here or here).   …

Energy Storage: Washington D.C. Is Not All Bad

Josh Gould

Yes, we’re all well aware of the current opprobrium United States’ citizens have for the politicians in Washington D.C.  But – regardless of your political views – one excellent event happened in early November in D.C.  And that was the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Storage Systems Program (ESS) Update Conference at the Washington DC Marriott Hotel on Nov. 2 - 4, 2010.

The annual conference was attended by over 500 people, which blew past the typical attendance of roughly 150.  The program covered the ESS program’s  energy storage-related projects, and featured the latest in cutting edge storage technologies, startups, and products.

The conference was notable for the increasing influence of big companies in the storage space.  It marks the continued shift of the industry away from one dominated by venture investors and startups, to one where large companies are developing, scouting, investing in and partnering with new storage technologies and startups.

For those not able to attend this ground-breaking event, please read our Research Note here on what we learned in Washington D.C. (Cleantech Group subscribers only)…

Green material company seeks £16M to expand into international markets

Mia Javier

If you drive a car, you are likely unaware of the processes various parts have endured. Door lock mechanisms and tie-down hooks on truck beds – to name a few examples – are covered with anti-corrosive coating to ensure product lifetime.

The manufacturing process associated with coating technologies, however, is so toxic that China and the European Union have implemented new regulations that prohibit traditional technologies including plating, zinc flake and hot dip galvanized. Such processes produce toxic fumes and hazardous waste by-product.

Cleveland-based, UK incorporated company, Greenkote, has developed a surface metal coating technology that not only replaces but outperforms toxic conventional coating technologies. The company has developed a proprietary process by which the coating product is diffused onto the metal, creating a dry process that eliminates toxic fumes and hazardous waste.

“Not only is the material environmentally friendly, the process is environmentally friendly,” Jim Thomson, the company’s chief financial officer told the Cleantech Group.

The process helps save on costs as well, Thomson told us, since the elimination of hazardous waste mitigates the need for cleanup management costs.

According to Thompson, Greenkote aims to license their technology to the component manufacturers or ‘Tier 1s’ that directly produce …