Cleantech Open NW Awards Expo Oct 5th in Seattle

The 3rd Annual Cleantech Open Northwest Region Awards Expo is this Wednesday, Oct 5th, at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle.

The event will spotlight the region’s most promising clean technology innovators of the year and includes a stellar venture capital, angel, and entrepreneur panel on the clean tech investing outlook.

Three Finalists will receive awards to help them grow their ventures, and they will go on to compete for the National Cleantech Open Championship in November.

To register, follow this link:
Registration Link to Cleantech Open NW Awards Exp

Some details:
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
3:30pm to 7:30pm

Bell Harbor Conference Center
Pier 66, 2203 Alaskan Way
Seattle, Washington

3:45pm – 5:45pm – Two hours on the exhibition floor
5:45pm – 6:45pm – Keynote Panel on Cleantech Investment Outlook
6:45pm – 7:15pm – Announcing the Finalists who proceed to the Nationals and their awards

We hope to see you there to cheer on these innovative entrepreneurs and listen to the clean tech investing panel.
Byron McCann

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Smart Grid IPO – Silver Spring Files

Venture capital backed Silver Spring Networks filed on July 7th to go public. Kleiner Perkins and Foundation Capital are among the leading investors. The tech IPO trend has been picking up after an extended drought. And, Silver Spring needs to pick up needed capital to expand its business while the financing window is open. We are looking forward to more clean tech IPO’s to propel more liquidity in this critical sector.


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MITEF – Meet the Angels Panel – NW Energy Angels and Byron McCann

MIT Enterprise Forum: Meet the Angels Panel – March 8, 2011
Angel investing is a passion among private investors. According to Byron B. McCann, Co-chair of the NW Energy Angels, angels want their entrepreneurs to succeed so they will succeed as well. One key point in the collaboration between investor and entrepreneur is the need to communicate, especially after the investment has been made. Entrepreneurs will most likely need investor support down the line and this support will be forthcoming if the entrepreneur has not stopped selling the company to the investor right after closing the round. Rather, being transparent after the investment is important so the investor will not be surprised. This generates trust. Trust equals support. Support most often means more money. So, entrepreneurs, keep selling is a daily mindset to investors and everyone, even your spouse.

Thank you to John Cook at GeekWire for highlighting these comments!

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Puralytics Wins the Cleantech Open National Award

Puralytics, the innovative water purification company from Oregon, won the national Cleantech Open award in a field of many excellent, emerging cleantech companies. www.puralytics.com

I had the pleasure of announcing Puralytics win as the Northwest Regional Cleantech Open finalist at the awards gala and moments later, we learned that it won the entire national prize. Seeing Mark Owen and his team win and receive the award was particularly gratifying as I’ve been keen on seeing a Northwest company win since my role as NW Regional Director was to encourage entrepreneurs to enter, compete, improve their businesses and win in more than one way!

Mark Owen, CEO, is the kind of entrepreneur who one can work with to build a successful company. They are gaining great commercial traction and philanthropic groups realize that their water purification technology can solve many disaster water needs as well as in less advantaged areas.

We did a celebration on December 2nd in Portland and will do one on December 9th in Seattle with the Cleantech Open NW regional group. Feel free to email me for information: byron@ascentpartnersgroup.com

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China to Provide Tax Incentives for Renewable Energy

China will indroduce a measure to cut taxes for renewable energy companies and implement price incentives for renewable power, Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, told reporters in Beijing today, according to Bloomberg News. This is consistent with their economic policy to be the global leader in clean technologies. Perhaps the political debate in the U.S. over how to address the future of this important industry sector can be resolved in light of a global competitiveness issue.

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Brammo Brings In $12.4M in Series B To Date

Brammo continues to forge ahead with products (Empulse), manufacturing (Flextronics), funding (Series B), and distribution. The team in Ashland, OR is busy executing indeed!

(Following from One Racing Source) “Brammo filed the appropriate forms with the SEC yesterday stating that it has raised $ 12.4 million in Series B funds, in what is still an open round of financing. Brammo hopes to raise a total of $ 30 million in the Series B offering, with the use of funds likely going towards expanding Brammo’s reach into the Asian and European markets, as well as building out the company’s product line into other target segments.

Also in the Form D filing with the SEC we get a glimpse of the people behind the company’s management, which includes a presence from Brammo’s initial investors Best Buy & the clean-tech venture capital group Chrysalix, as well as Brammo’s CFO Bruce Gilpin. New to the ranks is David Kurtz from Alpine Inc., an oil and gas exploration and development firm that is leading the Series B round with another firm that is so far unknown.

It says something about the state of electric vehicles when oil companies start investing in them, so it doesn’t surprise us to learn that most of the remaining $ 17.5 million in the Series B round has already been committed, and could close in the new year. Brammo’s ability to raise this much capital is a good sign for EV fans and other EV companies alike. Despite tight coffers, venture capitalists and private equity funds are still investing in electrics, especially electric motorcycles.

Brammo joins the ranks of Zero Motorcycles and Mission Motors, both of whom have had to also file similar paperwork with the SEC, meeting threshold point in fundraising where they needed to disclose private offerings of stock. Yesterday’s filing has been the largest collection of capital so far in this space, with Brammo’s $ 12.4 million dwarfing the $ 7.3 million that Zero raised earlier in the year (here & here). To-date Brammo has raised $ 23 million ($ 41 million when this round is closed), with its $ 11 million Series A round taking place in August 2008.

The use of the funds according to CEO Craig Bramscher will go towards Brammo’s global expansion, product development, and day-to-day business. Coming on the heels of its announced partnership with Flextronics, the cash infusion puts Brammo as the first-mover into foreign markets in the electric motorcycle space. “It allows us to leverage our guerilla market tactics across the globe,” Bramscher said of the new funds.

Brammo’s coffers may be larger than what they were before, but few companies would consider anything under $ 100 million adequate funding for a global expansion. “The comparison with Tesla keeps coming up in the conversation,” says Bramscher. “We like that, but we’re trying to achieve the same goals with a lot less.” Being efficient with funds is critical in this market to woo investors, which Brammo says is one of the things that’s helped them bring in the dealflow.

Bramscher hopes one day to take Brammo public, taking a cue from Tesla’s recent IPO, but that stop on the Brammo roadmap is still farther down the road, and right now the company is focusing on this investment. “Our hope is that this gets us to black ink, that this gets us global expansion, and gets us marketing,” explained Bramscher. “We’re trying to find the right investors that really do bring the right kind of value to the company. So far, everybody adds value beyond just the money they’ve invested.”

For consumers, expect new Brammo-clad products to be announced. While we already know that the Brammo Empulse will make its production debut next year, other models are likely to come from the Ashland-based company. “With the better drivetrain and longer range, we’re able to go into other segments,” hinted Bramscher. “We’re looking at anything with volume.”

With volume being the key word, Brammo is very close to having its Asian market headquarters in China picked out, while the company is still looking for a location for its brick and mortar presence in Europe.”

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Cleantech Open NW Regional Awards & Expo Event

On October 4, 2010, from 4:30 to 7:30 PM, the second regional awards event for the Cleantech Open will be held at the Bell Harbor International Conference center in Seattle. This year’s group of diverse cleantech companies from around the Northwest offer a variety of products, technologies, and solutions which include biofuels, vehicles, water purification, wind and water power, and web solutions for reducing traffic. In addition, last year’s semi-finalists will be exhibiting. Come participate, network, see these companies, and find out who the three regional finalist will be who go to the national finals on November 17 in San Jose, CA. Go to Cleantech Open to register.

Byron McCann, Regional Director, Pacific Northwest

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Ascent’s TORQUE Angel Investing Filter

Gregg Bennett, Charles Finkelstein, Brad Harlow, Byron McCann, Peter Ueberroth

At the Zino Zillionaire angel panel on September 15, 2010, Byron McCann, Managing Partner, of Ascent Partners Group, offered a way to look at and filter potential angel investments using a mnemonic he calls “TORQUE”. There has to be a balance in an emerging venture across capabilities. Only technology and not enough product could be a critical imbalance. “When you torque a nut on a bolt, you have to have the right amount of torque – not enough, it will come loose and fail to do its job, and too much, it will strip the threads and become useless entirely,” said McCann. “A venture needs a good balance of many factors and TORQUE is one easy way to begin looking at it from both the entrepreneur’s and investor’s points of view.

TRACTION – Do potential customers really want the specific value proposition the venture is offering? How’s that validated?
OPPORTUNITY – Is this a big enough and interesting enough market to make worthwhile all the effort to build the venture?
RELATIONSHIP – Is this a group of entrepreneurs you want to work with over the life of the investment? Is there trust? Will you be able to collaborate and have open communication?
QUALITY – Do the entrepreneurs focus on doing the right things the right way? Do they have a quality mindset? Will they do a process or task well or just be expedient?
UNIQUE – Is this unique enough to be differentiated in the market, solve the problem well, and defend against competition? Is there solid intellectual property?
EXECUTION – Can the team focus and operate the business with intensity and excellence to help customers and build value?

While there are many other considerations to employ in evaluating an emerging venture, this is a good start to filter down the ones worth spending time investigating further. Angel investing and emerging ventures are exciting and have the chance to make a worthy impact for many. Focusing on the right ones is a key step in this invigorating but often challenging process. Good luck!

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Verenium Closes Sale of Cellulosic Biofuels Business to BP

Completion of this transaction is evidence that big oil continues to nibble away at the biofuel business. While this is a tiny bite for BP, it supports the future trajectory of cellulosic biofuel demand if only related to increased requirements by the EPA to bring ethanol up to 15% of the gasoline blend.

Company to focus on growing commercial enzyme business —

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept 02, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX News Network/ — Verenium Corporation (Nasdaq: VRNM), a pioneer in the development and commercialization of high-performance industrial enzyme solutions, today announced the closing of the sale of its cellulosic biofuels business to BP Biofuels North America for $98.3 million, subject to the additional financial terms of the transaction announced on July 15, 2010.

In the transaction, BP acquired the Company’s facilities in Jennings, LA, including the pilot plant and demonstration-scale facility, the San Diego, CA R&D facilities, as well as cellulosic biofuels and cellulosic enzyme technology and related IP. In addition, BP retained select personnel needed to continue the cellulosic biofuels development program. BP also became the sole owner of Vercipia Biofuels and Galaxy Biofuels, the 50-50 joint ventures created by the Company and BP.

Verenium retains its commercial enzyme business, including its biofuels enzyme products, and has the right to develop its own cellulosic enzyme program. Verenium also retains select R&D capabilities, as well as the potential option to access select biofuels technology developed by BP using the technology acquired from Verenium through this transaction.

UBS Investment Bank acted as financial advisor to Verenium in connection with this transaction.

The material terms of the transaction are described in greater detail in the Company’s Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 19, 2010.

Verenium Corporation is a pioneer in the development and commercialization of high-performance enzymes for use in industrial processes. Verenium currently sells enzymes developed using its R&D capabilities to industrial customers globally for use in markets including grain and oilseed processing, biofuels, animal health and nutrition and other specialty industrial processes. Verenium has built a world-class R&D organization renowned for its capabilities in the rapid screening, identification, evolution and bioengineering of novel enzymes that act as catalysts for biochemical reactions. The company harnesses the power of nature and uses its unique, patented technology to create products that transform industries by maximizing efficiency while improving environmental performance. For more information on Verenium, visit http://www.verenium.com.

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Brammo – Wins Best Electric Motorcycle for 2010

Motorcycle.com ranked the Brammo Enertia as the “Best Electric Motorcycle” for 2010. See rankings list.

The Enertia was cited for its uncompromising quality of components and super low operating costs. While priced at $7,995, it remains a good value in its category beating out the competition. We’ll be watching to see how the high performance Empulse does when it is released. An innovative company with strong partners in Best Buy and Chrysalix Energy Ventures indeed. Brammo is also a “portfolio” company of the Northwest Energy Angels.

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