SG Biofuels Receives $17 Million in Series B Financing

SG Biofuels SG Biofuels, Inc., (SGB) a San Diego, California-based bioenergy crop company, announced in January that it has completed a $17 million Series B financing led by Thomas, McNerney & Partners with participation from Finistere Ventures and current investors Flint Hills Resources, LLC and Life Technologies Corporation.  The company said it will use the proceeds to expand research and development, advance commercialization efforts and scale global operations.

SGB also announced that Pratik Shah, Ph.D., partner at Thomas, McNerney, and Jerry Caulder, Ph.D., managing director for Finistere Ventures, have joined the company’s board of directors.

“We are very pleased to complete this financing and are privileged to add Thomas,  McNerney and Finistere Ventures with their considerable track records and expertise to our team, ” said Kirk Haney, president and chief executive officer at SGB. “The funding comes at a time when we’re experiencing significant commercial adoption of our hybrid Jatropha and will be instrumental as we continue to expand our global footprint.”

In September 2010 the company secured $9.4 million in Series A funding.

SDForum Presents “Biofuels – Is Sugar the New Oil?” on May 17 (Discount Available)

SDForumOn May 17, SDForum will present the next program in its Clean Tech Breakfast Series entitled Biofuels – Is Sugar the New Oil?  A summary of this program is:

As global crude oil supplies become more expensive and uncertain, many countries view biofuels from conventional sugar crops as a cheaper, cleaner, more secure substitute for oil. Several questions arise: Once sugar becomes a major energy source, how will sugar prices vary with crude oil prices and with rising demand? Are biofuels truly a cleaner alternative to oil-derived fuels? Will current technologies be compatible with future sources of sugar?

This program will feature the following panelists:

  • Kef Kasdin, Proterro Inc.
  • Aaron Moser, LS9
  • Greg Young, Burrill & Company
  • Moderated by: Thomas Lord, PricewaterhouseCoopers

This program will be held from 8:00 am - 10:00 am at SAP, 3412 Hillview Avenue, Baltic/Caribbean rooms in Building 2, Palo Alto, CA. Thanks to our friends at SDForum, readers of Green VC can receive a $5 discount from the non-member registration price for this event.  To receive the discount, please use code "CLEAN05" when registering online.

Solix Biofuels Obtains $16 Million in Series B Financing and Changes Name to Solix BioSystems

Solix Biosystems

Solix Biofuels, a developer of algae production technology, announced earlier this week that it has secured more than $16 million from inside investors as the first part of its Series B financing round. Bohemian Ventures, The Southern Ute Alternative Energy Fund, and I2BF Global Ventures all participated in the financing. In conjunction with the financing, the company stated that it is changing its name to Solix BioSystems to better reflect its role as a provider of algae production systems.

Solix said that it will use the new funding to drive the commercialization of the AGS, its industrial algae growth system.  The company is headquartered in Fort Collins, Colorado and has a demonstration facility near Durango in Southern Colorado.

SG Biofuels Receives $9.4 Million in Series A Financing

SG Biofuels SG Biofuels, Inc., an Encinitas, California-based bioenergy crop company, announced earlier this month that it completed a $9.4 million Series A financing.  Participating in this round were Flint Hills Resources, a privately held company based in Kansas; Life Technologies Corporation, a biotechnology tools company based in Carlsbad, California; and existing investors. The company said that the financing will support its efforts to advance Jatropha (a non-edible shrub native to Central America) as a high-yielding, low cost feedstock for diesel, jet fuel, and petrochemicals.

In addition, SG Biofuels announced that Anthony Sementelli, CFO of Flint Hills Resources, and Nathan Wood, vice president of Life Technologies’ Genomics Technologies business segment, have joined the company's board of directors.

“We are very pleased to complete this financing with high-caliber partners that bring strategic value to our business model, and to have the round oversubscribed further validates our approach,” said Kirk Haney, president and chief executive officer at SG Biofuels. “Our integrated platform of breeding, biotechnology and agronomy provides a significant opportunity for SG Biofuels and our partners to create a thriving global market for crude Jatropha oil.”

Solazyme Receives $52 Million in Series D Financing

Solazyme Solazyme, a renewable oil production company, announced earlier this week that it has raised $52 million in its Series D financing round. Braemar Energy Ventures and new investor Morgan Stanley are leading the round with all major existing investors from previous rounds participating, including Lightspeed Venture Partners, The Roda Group, Harris and Harris Group, VantagePoint Venture Partners and Zygote Ventures. Existing strategic investors CTTV Investments LLC, the venture capital arm of Chevron Technology Ventures LLC, and San-Ei Gen, a major Japanese manufacturer and distributor of food ingredients, also participated.

"Our technology and commercialization plans are progressing rapidly. We are executing against multiple partnerships with global industry leaders and the U.S. Department of Defense on a rapid path to commercialization," said Jonathan Wolfson, CEO of Solazyme. "The strong support from our current investors in the Series D is indicative of our ability to exceed milestones, including the production of renewable oil for multiple applications at large scale."

Solazyme, founded in 2003 and headquartered in South San Francisco, uses microbial fermentation to produce renewable oil that can be used for clean and scalable fuels, chemicals, nutritional food ingredients, and health and wellness products. The following video provides an overview of the company:

MIT/Stanford Venture Lab to Present “Biofuels 2.0: Sustainable Startups – from Garage to Gargantuan” on February 16

MIT/Stanford Venture Lab (VLAB)On February 16, the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab will present a program entitled Biofuels 2.0: Sustainable Startups – from Garage to Gargantuan. This program is co-sponsored by and will aim to address a number of topics, including:

  • Sustainable business models, scalability, and environmental impacts
  • Opportunities for small, bootstrap startups in the biofuels value chain
  • How failures in biofuels 1.0 are creating new opportunities in 2.0
  • What do VCs think about Biofuels 2.0?

This program will feature the following:

  • Jack Oswald – CEO of SynGest
  • Eric McAfee – CEO AE Biofuels
  • David Berry, MD, PhD – Partner, Flagship Ventures
  • Paul Bryan, PhD – Biofuels VP-Tech, Chevron Energy Technology Co.
  • Leandro Vetcher – Co-founder & VP BD, Green Pacific Biologicals
  • Jim Lane – Editor/Publisher of the BioFuels Digest (Moderator)

This event will take place from 6:00 – 8:30 pm at Arbuckle Lounge and Bishop Auditorium at Stanford Business School, Stanford, CA.  Additional program information and registration is available here.

“Next Generation Biofuels: The Prospects and the Challenges of Non Food Crop Energy” Program to Take Place on January 28

Next Generation Biofuels: The Prospects and the Challenges of Non Food Crop Energy is the second program in a six-part panel discussion series from VC Taskforce and Morrison & Foerster entitled "Maximizing Returns in Emerging Cleantech Sectors: The Interplay of Regulation, Intellectual Property and Investment."  The goals of this series are:

  • To provide an in-depth view into emerging sectors of the Cleantech economy
  • To elaborate areas for VC consideration in due-diligence with regard to each sector
  • To highlight areas for business planning/strategy development for emerging companies in the space

This program will take place on January 28 from 6:00 - 9:00 pm at Trader Vic's at Dinah's Garden Hotel, 4269 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA, 94306 and will feature the following panelists:

For more information:

Astia and SDForum to Present Panel on Next Generation Biofuel Feedstock on October 21 (2008 Clean Tech Breakfast Series)

On October 21, Astia and SDForum will present the final program in the 2008 Clean Tech Breakfast Series.  This program is entitled "Next Generation Biofuel Feedstock" and will feature a panel that will share their insights into the current state of algae-related technology and commercialization efforts.  The panel will also discuss alternatives to algae in the biofuels sector. The panelists for this program are:

  • David Blume - Biofuels Expert
  • Will Coleman – Partner, MDV
  • James Horn – Managing Director, Noventi
  • Matt Jones - Partner, Nth Power
  • Derek Dowsett – Partner, Moss Adams (moderator)

This event will take place from 8:00 am – 10:00 am at the Cabaña Hotel & Resort (Palo Alto), 4290 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306. The cost for SDForum members is $25 and $30 for non-members.  Further program information and registration can be found here.

Mascoma Receives $49.5 Million from the U.S Department of Energy and the State of Michigan


Mascoma Corporation, a Boston, Massachusetts-based company involved in the development and deployment of cellulosic ethanol technologies, announced ealier this week that it received a $49.5 million — $26 million from the U.S. Department of Energy and $23.5 million from the State of Michigan.  The funds will be used for the development of a cellulosic fuel production facility in Kinross in Chippewa County, Michigan that uses non-food biomass to convert woodchips into fuel. Mascoma investors General Motors Corporation and Marathon Oil Corporation are also providing support for this project.

Mascoma will be working on this project with Marquette, Michigan-based JM Longyear.  This partnership will involve the creation of a new company, Frontier Renewable Resources, which will own the project. Mascoma will also be working with Michigan State University and Michigan Technological University to adapt Mascoma’s technology and supply chain options for the Michigan feedstocks used in production.  The Kinross facility will use sustainably harvested mixed hardwood chips and other non-food biomass materials as the raw material for the production of cellulosic fuel.  The facility is expected to eventually produce 40 million gallons of ethanol and other fuel products annually.

"Michigan is proud to partner with Mascoma as a part of our commitment to lead the nation in alternative energy production," said Governor Granholm. "This company, and their partners, will create jobs in Michigan as they develop the next generation of cellulosic ethanol that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make fuel more affordable for our families."

"We’ve targeted industries like alternative energy to diversify Michigan’s economy and create new jobs," Michigan Economic Development Corporation President and CEO James C. Epolito said. "Innovative tools combined with effective partnerships are enabling us to attract high-tech companies like Mascoma and accelerate Michigan’s transformation."

"Mascoma is pleased and honored to receive this important funding from the DOE and the State of Michigan," said Bruce A. Jamerson, Chairman and CEO of Mascoma Corporation. "This funding will allow us to accelerate commercial production of low cost, low carbon fuel that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy independence," Jamerson continued.

"I applaud the decision by the Department of Energy and the state of Michigan to provide the incentives Mascoma needed to scale up the technology and accelerate construction of this facility here in Michigan," said Senator Carl Levin. "This investment in cutting-edge biofuel technology will create jobs in Michigan, and the incredible natural resources of the Upper Peninsula will help Mascoma to efficiently produce the next generation of fuels."

"Mascoma Corporation’s cellulosic fuel facility is a prime example of how Michigan continues to lead the way in solving our nation’s energy crisis while creating new jobs in a green economy," said Senator Debbie Stabenow. "I am pleased to work with the rest of the delegation and the State of Michigan to support Mascoma in their mission to develop low-carbon biofuels and reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

"Mascoma and the Department of Energy recognize the potential northern Michigan and our workforce hold for developing alternative energy sources," Congressman Bart Stupak said. "Mascoma’s proposed cellulosic fuels facility will be the first of its kind in the nation to produce ethanol from timber. This important federal-state-private partnership will put northern Michigan on the forefront of this developing technology, create hundreds of jobs in our community and the potential for many more. I am pleased to have played a role in helping to bring this significant investment to Chippewa County."

Masoma was founded in 2005 and has received approximately $100 million in equity investments thusfar.  Investors include Flagship Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Atlas Venture, General Catalyst Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Pinnacle Ventures, VantagePoint Venture Partners, General Motors, and Marathon Oil.

For more information:

U.S. Department of Energy to Provide up to $40 Million for Small-Scale Biorefinery Projects in Wisconsin and Louisiana

U.S. Department of Energy

On Monday, July 14, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of two small-scale cellulosic biorefinery projects in Park Falls, Wisconsin and Jennings, Louisiana for federal funding of up to $40 million over five years.

Cellulosic ethanol is an alternative fuel made from a wide variety of plant materials or non-food based feedstocks, including agricultural wastes such as corn stover; forest wastes such as saw dust and forest thinnings; and energy crops, such as switchgrass. In studies conducted by scientist at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, compared with conventional gasoline, ethanol produced from cellulosic materials requires as much as 90 percent less fossil energy to produce and has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 86 percent over the lifecycle.

Negotiations between the following companies and DOE will begin immediately to determine final project plans and funding levels:

Flambeau River Biofuels (FRB), LLC (Park Falls, Wisconsin)
The proposed biorefinery will be installed in an existing pulp and paper mill in Park Falls, Wis., and will produce liquid fuels from abundant and renewable cellulosic (wood) biomass. The biorefinery will not be dependent on any food-based feedstock materials, but rather on by-product or residuals from forest and agricultural sources. When completed, the facility will produce at least 1 trillion BTUs of renewable energy for the host mill and 6 million gallons of transportation (sulfur-free diesel) fuels per year.

FRB participants/investors include: ANL Consultants, Auburn University, Brigham Young University, Citigroup Global Markets, CleanTech Partners, Emerging Fuels Technology, Flambeau River Papers, Johnson Timber, National Renewable Energy Lab, Michigan Technological University, NC State University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ThermoChem Recovery International, University of Wisconsin, and the USDA Forest Products Laboratory.

Verenium Biofuels Corporation (Jennings, Louisiana)
Construction of Verenium’s 1.5 million gallon per year demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol facility is underway and is scheduled to be complete in late 2008.  The project is moving rapidly to commercialize its proprietary technology for the production of ethanol from a wide array of biomass feedstocks, including sugarcane bagasse, agricultural byproducts, waste wood products, and other non-food based energy crops. 

The Jennings, Louisiana demonstration plant is operated by Verenium Corporation, which was formed in 2007 through a merger of Celunol Corp, and Diversa Corporation.

These two projects are the final round of selections for DOE’s competitive small-scale biorefinery solicitation.  A total of nine projects have been selected by DOE to receive up to a total of $240 million in DOE funding over the next five fiscal years, subject to appropriations.  Including industry cost share, more than $735 million will be invested in these projects over the next four to five years.

This news is part of more than $1 billion in investments that DOE has announced for multi-year biofuels research and development projects; these other announcements include:

For more information on the July 14th announcement: