October VC deals and data

A123Systems, which is developing nanophosphate lithium ion batteries to be used in everything from power tools to hybrid/ plug-in and electric vehicles, completed a $30 million round of funding, bringing the total capital invested in the company to $132 million. Investors include General Electric, Procter & Gamble, Alliance Capital, Motorola, Qualcomm, North Bridge Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, CMEA Ventures, FA Technology Ventures, OnPoint, Carruth Management and MIT.

GridPoint, Inc., which is developing smart grid platforms, closed a $48.5 million Series D financing, bringing the total invested to $88 million. Goldman Sachs and Susquehanna Private Equity Investments led the round. Gridpoint offers utilities an intelligent network of distributed resources (e.g., advanced load control devices, batteries, solar systems) that reside at the point of consumption – the home or business. It can be scaled and upgraded to integrate new clean technologies such as plug-in hybrids and fuel cells.

Innovalight Inc, which is developing silicon ink-based printed solar cells, raised $28 million to relocate to a new 30,000 square foot plant in Sunnyvale, California. Convexa Capital led the series C financing. By processing silicon with liquids, the company aims to reduce the cost of solar by over 50%. The founder, Alf Bjorseth, is the former president and CEO of Renewable Energy Corporation, one of the world’s largest vertically integrated solar companies. The capital should move Innovalight from development to production.

HelioVolt Corp., an Austin, Texas-based developer of thin-film photovoltaics, has raised $24 million in additional Series B funding. The round total now stands at $101 million, including a $77 million first close announced in August. New investors include Sequel Venture Partners, Noventi Ventures and Passport Capital. The initial tranche included participation from Paladin Capital Group, Masdar Clean Tech Fund, New Enterprise Associates, Solucar Energias, Morgan Stanley Principal Investments, Sunton United Energy and Yellowstone Capital.

BioFuelBox Inc., a Hollister, Calif.-based biofuel refining startup, has raised $9.46 million in Series A funding. Backers include Draper Fisher Jurvetson and DFJ Element, according to a regulatory filing. The company’s website says its solution is a “bio-refinery in a box — a modular, containerized innovation that produces biofuel cost-effectively and easily.”

Pellet-Art, a Poland-based wood pellet producer, has raised $9.5 million from Penton Partners.

Altela Inc., an Albuquerque-based provider of desalination technology and services, has raised $7.1 million in Series A funding. CCS Income Trust, a Canadian environmental and energy services company, led the deal.

American Public Education Inc., a Charles Town, West Va.-based provider of online postsecondary education for the military and public service communities, has set its IPO terms to around 4.69 million common shares being offered at between $15 and $17 per share. It would have an initial market cap of approximately $288 million if it prices at the high end of its range. The company plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol APEI, with William Blair & Co. and Piper Jaffray serving as co-lead underwriters. Shareholders include ABS Capital Partners (41.4% pre-IPO stake) and Camden Partners (10.3%).

AEA Investors has agreed to sell Burt’s Bees Inc., a Durham, N.C.-based maker of personal care products like lip balm, to Clorox Co. (NYSE: CLX). The deal is valued at $925 million, net of an additional $25 million payment for anticipated tax benefits. Get more info.

Zipcar has agreed to merge with fellow car sharing company Flexcar. No financial terms were disclosed. The combined company will be known as Zipcar, with Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith running the show. Zipcar has raised around $38 million in VC funding from firms like Benchmark Capital, Greylock and Globespan Capital Partners.

Vocalocity, an Atlanta-based provider of hosted VoIP services to micro enterprises, has raised $8 million in Series A funding. Noro-Moseley Partners led the deal, and was joined by Pittco Capital Partners, Imlay Partners and company management.

WeatherBill, a San Francisco-based online service that helps companies protect revenue and control costs from the impact of bad weather, has raised $12.5 million in new Series A funding. The company has now raised a total of $16.8 million. New Enterprise Associates and Index Ventures co-led the round, and were joined by Allen & Co., Atomico Investments, Sean Park and return backers First Round Capital and individual angels. Kittu Kolluri of NEA and Neil Rimer of Index Ventures will join the WeatherBill board of directors. Also joining the board is Barney Schauble, a partner at Nephila Capital, WeatherBill’s risk capacity partner.

Penguin Computing, a San Francisco-based provider of Linux cluster virtualisation, has raised just over $3.11 million in Series C funding, according to a regulatory filing. Shareholders include vSpring Capital, San Francisco Equity Partners, Weber Capital and Convergence Partners.

JibJab, a digital comedy studio, announced that it has raised Series B funding from existing shareholder Polaris Venture Partners. No financial terms were disclosed, but peHUB reported that the investment was $3 million. This comes on top of a Series A round that a regulatory filing indicates was worth nearly $6.4 million. JibJab is known for its political satire.

MA Renewable Ventures, a subsidiary of MuniMae, closed Fund III, which will finance 10-15MW of new solar PV projects at 30 sites for commercial, utility, and municipal customers. When Fund III is implemented, MMA will have financed $300 million of solar energy projects in seven states using Power Purchase Agreements, resulting in 30 MW of solar development.

The Ampire Equity Fund has raised Euro 350 million in Europe. The fund will close at Euro 500 million by year end. In an unusual move, the fund was created by a project developer to fund its own portfolio. It will invest in projects developed by Evelop, a subsidiary of Dutch clean energy firm, Econcern. 70% of the fund’s assets will be invested in Western Europe wind farms, both onshore and offshore; 30% will be invested in biomass generation and possibly solar. The Fund will provide about 25% of financing needed to reach the developer’s goal of implementing 4,000 to 5,000MW of sustainable energy. Evelop has plans for more funds.

In India, ICICI Bank is planning to launch a private equity fund that will invest primarily in India-focused private equity funds through its International Mauritius subsidiary, which is also tasked with launching ICICI’s $2 billion infrastructure fund that is currently in the pipeline. The fund of funds is to be launched by the beginning of 2008 and will start with about US$500 million in capital under management and eventually grow to about US$2.5 billion. Potential preliminary investments include IDFC Private Equity’s upcoming US$400 million fund and Baring Private Equity Asia’s next Indian fund. U.K.-based Private Equity Intelligence estimates that FoFs accounted for roughly 14% of private equity investments made last year. ICICI’s FoF will be the first by an Indian company.

MoneyTree reported that 887 companies raised $7.1 billion in Q3 in the US. VentureOne, on the other hand, reported $8.07 billion raised by 635 companies. Working with MoneyTree data, quarterly investment activity was down slightly from the second quarter of 2007 when $7.2 billion (but higher than $6.8b in Q3 2006) was invested in 1,000 deals, suggesting ongoing stability within the venture capital arena. The quarter saw notable increases inboth the CleanTech and Internet specific sectors as well as ongoing strength in first rounds of venture capital financing. Moneytree release here.

Thomson Financial and the National Venture Capital Association released Q3 US fundraising data for the venture capital industry. Fifty-nine firms raised around $6 billion, which is a significant decline from both the prior quarter and Q3 2006. Release here.

Private equity investments in China topped US$2 billion for the first three quarters of 2007, surpassing the US$1.77 billion for all of last year and setting a new record. Furthermore, 15 China-focused funds raised a total of US$9.669 billion in the third quarter alone, a single-quarter high. Research institute and consultancy Zero2IPO, which compiled the figures, expects private equity investment in Asia to remain active in the fourth quarter, with the media and education industries joining traditional industries like manufacturing and real estate as targets for investment. For the future, the consultancy predicts more private equity investments in regional high-tech industries like alternative energy, especially wind power.


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