Updates on IPOs, Capital Raises, New Venture Funds

Public Markets

In November, an Australian stock exchange dedicated specifically to cleantech launched, the SIM VSE Securities Exchange.

"By linking the themes of scarce capital, scarce resources and sustainability, SIM VSE is seeking to become the Exchange for a cleaner planet," says the press release.

The exchange is a joint venture between Financial and Energy Exchange Limited (FEX) and the National Stock Exchange of Australia Limited (NSX).

In the US, Intermolecular (Nasdaq: IMI) raised $96.5 million in a recent IPO. The raise was well below the $200 million initial target, but shows that cleantech firms still have viable exits on the public markets.

Intermolecular develops technology and intellectual property for customers focused on advanced materials and processes, such as chips, glass, solar cells, LEDs and other energy efficient technologies.

Founded in 2004, IMI operates at a loss.. For the first nine months of 2011, revenue rose to $38.7 million, up 36% from last year. Its losses grew too, rising to 4.5 million, compared with to $2.9 million in the same period last year.

Also in November, another green chemistry firm, BioAmber, filed for a $150 million IPO, joining what’s become a crowded field. The Minnesota-based producer of bio-based succinic acid raised $45 million earlier this year.

In the last year, five similar firms have had strong public debuts in bioenergy and biofuels: Codexis (Nasdaq: CDXS), Amyris Biotechnologies (Nasdaq: AMRS), Gevo (Nasdaq: GEVO), Solazyme (Nasdaq: SZYM), and Kior (Nasdaq: KIOR).

At least six more in the space have filed for IPOs, including Myriant, Ceres, Mascoma, Elevance Renewable Sciences, and Fulcrum Bioenergy.

All the companies are producing petroleum alternatives for chemcals or fuels.

New Venture Capital Funds 

Semiconductor maker STMicroelectronics has launched a global corporate venture capital fund to invest in start-ups that include the clean technology sector. 

In addition to cleantech, "ST New Ventures" will focus on healthcare and "smart infrastructure" – all emerging markets for semiconductors. 

The fund will support early stage start-ups and bring its deep experince in semiconductors to bear to help portfolio companies.   

"ST has always been pursuing aggressively emerging trends which have eventually led to major new market inroads for the company. Where and how silicon could be used today can go well beyond its recognized markets and applications," says Loïc Liétar, Managing Director, ST New Ventures.

NextEnergy Capital is fundraising for a €400 million fund that would develop renewable energy and clean tech projects in Africa.

Roughly 80% of the fund will finance permitted power generation and infrastructure projects, and the rest will invest in pre-permit power plant development and help early-stage clean technologies get to market. 

NextEnergy and South African development bank, IDC, have committed seed capital for ix:Africa’s 6.5 megawatt (MW) solar project in South Africa.

IDC dedicated a line of credit to a Community Trust, which will hold a 21% stake in the project to ensure that dividends  finance local development initiatives such as education, training and health.

ix:Africa expects to develop 360 MW of solar capacity in South Africa over the next five years, creating 5000 permanent solar jobs.

Venture Capital Rounds

Electric vehicle maker Fisker Automotive raised another $33 million, bring its total to over $180 millon to make luxury plug-in cars.  

And DriveCam Inc., which develops safe driving programs and video solutions that improve fuel efficiency, raised $85 million.

Although solar has been the strongest segment for investors for years, including Q1 2011, investments have slid since the GOP attack on Solyndra. Since then, many investors have been looking for softer deals, becoming wary of investing in high risk, capital intensive renewable energy start-ups.

But some solar firms have raised funds nevertheless. Former Solyndra competitor, HelioVolt, raised $50 million from South Korean conglomerate SK Group, Sunpreme Ltd. raised $50 million and concentrating solar company Solaria raised $30 million, adding to the $65 million it raised in 2010 for a total of $167 millioin since its inception in 1999.

Ashok Sinha, who founder of Sunpreme says, the Solyndra failure taught him not to ask for too much money too early. This isn’t the time to go to investors for $500 million for a huge factory, he told the Wall St. Journal. "We want to go a couple of steps and prove that we have a truly decisive cost advantage."

Project developer SunEdison, a subsidiary of MEMC (NYSE: WFR), secured $110 million backed by the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to build solar PV plants in India.

In September, fuel-cell developer Bloom Energy raised $150 million in a new funding round, in an industry that’s growing again

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