Cleantech Venture Investment Tops $2.5B in 1Q11

Clean technology venture investments in 1Q11 in North America, Europe, China and India totaled $2.57 billion across 159 companies, according to preliminary figures released by the Cleantech Group.

Measured by dollars invested, cleantech venture investment was up by 52% compared to the previous quarter ($1.69 billion) and was also 13% higher than the same period a year ago ($2.28 billion).

Conversely, the number of deals recorded in 1Q11 was 159, a total which is likely to be the lowest quarterly count since mid 2009, though this tally may rise once all investors have completed reporting deals. Of these deals, 65% (104) were follow-on rounds, accounting for 93% ($2.39 billion) of all money invested during the quarter.

“In the first few months of the new year there have been a rash of large later-stage deals which have propelled 1Q11 to the second highest quarter ever for cleantech VC investment,” said Sheeraz Haji, CEO of Cleantech Group. “It’s encouraging to see some big private equity firms entering the space and continued strength with M&As.”

VENTURE INVESTMENT BY TECHNOLOGY SECTOR

The leading sector in the quarter by amount invested was solar ($641 million), followed by transportation ($311 million) and materials ($296 million). Solar was also the most popular sector measured by number of deals, with 26 funding rounds, ahead of energy efficiency (22 deals) and biofuels (13 deals). The largest transactions in the top four sectors were:

SOLAR – $641 million in 26 deals
BrightSource Energy, a California-based developer of utility-scale solar thermal power plants, took its current round of funding to $201 million with investment from VantagePoint Venture Partners, Alstom, DFJ, Chevron, BP Technology Ventures, and others; MiaSole, a California-based CIGS thin film panel maker, closed a $106 million round from investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Firelake Capital and VantagePoint Venture Partners; Alta Devices, a California-based developer of high efficiency solar PV applications, raised $72 million from existing investors; and SoloPower, a California-based developer of flexible thin-film solar power panels, raised $13.5 million in its fifth round of follow on funding from investors including Crosslink Capital, Hudson Clean Energy, and Convexa.

TRANSPORTATION – $311 million in 8 deals
Fisker Automotive, California-based producer of luxury plug-in hybrid cars, raised $150 million from investors including New Enterprise Associates, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Advanced Equities and A123 Systems; Coda Automotive, a California-based developer of electric cars, raised $76 million from Harbinger Capital Partners, Riverstone Holdings, Aeris Capital, Angeleno Group, and other investors. The funding is part of a planned $125 million capital raise; and Missouri -based Smith Electric Vehicles, a manufacturer of plug-in electric trucks, raised $58 million in equity funding from undisclosed investors.

MATERIALS – $296 million in 9 deals
Plastic Logic, a California-based developer of plastic electronics technology which it is currently using to produce an eReader product, raised $200 million in equity funding from RUSNANO and Oak Investment Partners as part of a larger funding package; Genomatica, a California-based developer of bio-manufacturing processes for the production of a variety of industrial chemicals, raised $45 million from investors including VantagePoint Venture Partners, Bright Capital and Waste Management; and Cima Nanotech, an Israel-based company commercializing nanomaterials for electronics applications, raised $15 million from Nikko antfactory KK.

BIOFUELS – $148 million in 13 deals
Fulcrum Bioenergy, a California-based developer of technology for converting municipal solid waste into ethanol, raised $75 million in Series C financing from Rustic Canyon Partners, U.S. Renewables Group, and other investors; Qteros, a Massachusetts-based developer of a bioprocessing platform for the low-cost production of cellulosic ethanol, raised $22 million in the initial tranche of its Series C financing; and Nexterra Energy, a Canada-based developer of advanced gasification systems that convert waste fuels into heat and power, raised $15 million from ARC Financial Corp. and Tandem Expansion.

VENTURE INVESTMENT BY WORLD REGION

North America accounted for 85% of the total, while Europe and Israel accounted for 6%, Asia for 7%, and the Rest of the World 2%.

GLOBAL M&As AND IPOs

There were 9 clean technology IPOs during the quarter, totaling $2.1 billion, down from the record 30 IPOs totaling $8.24 billion in 4Q10. The largest IPO was for Sinovel Wind Group, China’s largest developer of wind turbines, which raised $1.4 billion from an offering on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Also notable was an IPO for Colorado’s Gevo(Nasdaq: GEVO), a venture-backed producer of biobutanol from starch-based feedstocks, which raised $107 million on the Nasdaq.

Clean technology M&A totaled an estimated 215 transactions in 1Q11, of which totals were disclosed for 49 transactions totaling $15.3 billion. The total number of transactions was up compared to 4Q10, when there were 148 transactions (45 of disclosed value) totaling $8.76 billion. The largest deal, and the largest cleantech acquisition we have ever recorded, was DuPont’s $6.3B acquisition of Denmark’s Danisco, a leading industrial biotechnology company. DuPont says the acquisition will help it address the growing demand for food and clean energy.

cash mountain

TOP GLOBAL VC INVESTORS

The most active cleantech venture investors in 1Q11 were Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (9 investment rounds); VantagePoint Venture Partners (5 rounds); GE Energy Financial Services (4 rounds); Google Ventures (3 rounds); and Khosla Ventures (3 rounds).

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Original Article on SustainableBusiness.com

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