July 16, 2008

VentureWire

ATV Leads Investments In Two Cleantech Cos.

Advanced Technology Ventures will today announce investments in two cleantech companies: Wakonda Technologies Inc., a developer of solar photovoltaic products, and Nuventix Inc., an electronic cooling device maker.The firm co-led a $9.5 million Series A investment in Wakonda with an investment syndicate that included Applied Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, Massachusetts Green Energy Fund and Polaris Venture Partners.Wakonda, which is based in Boston but is moving to Medford, Mass., has a "handful" of employees developing a new material that the company said will translate into significant cost efficiencies in solar cell manufacturing.Bill Wiberg, a general partner at ATV who will join Wakonda's board of directors, declined to provide a valuation for the company or details about its products.Wiberg said the company's approach to building a new architecture will likely lower the cost and increase efficiency. Typically, he said, there's been a tradeoff between cost and efficiency, but Wakonda is well-positioned to be able to tweak the scales by sacrificing a little of one dimension for more of another if needed. "We have a firm belief that we can build an inexpensive architecture for solar cells," Wiberg said.Wiberg said Wakonda has already seen some lab results and the first mission with the new funds will be to "demonstrate a full proof of concept of the architecture."ATV also holds stakes in one undisclosed solar company and CaliSolar Inc., another company that will use the silicon to make photovoltaic cells that Wiberg said have potentially "breakthrough" technologies.In addition to Wakonda, ATV also will announce that it led a $14 million Series C investment in Nuventix Inc. Also participating in the round were new investor Braemar Energy Ventures and existing investors.Wes Raffel, a general partner at ATV who will join Nuventix's board of directors, declined to provide a valuation for the round, which closed recently. He said it was an up-round.Austin, Texas-based Nuventix makes electronic cooling devices that would work to replace or augment fans in electronic consumer applications. SynJet, the company's air cooling technology, aims to have more reliability and make less noise than a traditional fan. The cooling device, which moves the air to cool it, can be adjusted to take any form of a given electronic product.The company is initially targeting the light-emitting diode market, Raffel said.The device is tiny, about as big as a fingernail, Raffel said. "It's much smaller than a traditional fan," he said. "The power needed to drive a fan is much greater than needed to drive this capability."Funds from the Series C will be used for sales and marketing as well as to expand the company's product offerings.Although the product is currently relatively inexpensive, Raffel said it needs to be moved from "dollars" closer to "cents," something that he hopes to accomplish in part with this round of funding by increasing production volume and manufacturing capabilities.Raffel said the new round should last the company a "long time."Nuventix previously closed $8.5 million in funds from CenterPoint Ventures, InterWest Partners and Rho Ventures. The company was founded in 2005 when it licensed technology developed at Georgia Institute of Technology. At that time, Nuventix raised $6.5 million, according to VentureWire records.ATV closed earlier this year on $302.9 million for its eighth fund, more than it reported last summer in a regulatory filing. Thirty-six limited partners, including Delaware Public Employees' Retirement System and Pantheon Ventures, contributed to the fund.