It's been said: Cleantech is not a trend, nor is it a bubble. It's a growing part of the venture world that proved its prominence once again in 2010. Despite murmurings of a pullback in Cleantech commitments, venture capitalists invested $3.98 billion into 278 cleantech companies last year, according to a study by Ernst & Young. That's an 8% increase over 2009, when venture firms plunked down $3.7 billion. What's more, five of the six largest venture investment rounds in 2010 went to Cleantech companies, according to Thomson Reuters. That includes a $350 million investment in Better Place, which develops charging infrastructure for electric cars, as well as a $150 million investment in BrightSource Energy, a developer, builder and operator of large scale solar plants.
But it wasn't just headline-grabbing solar and electric deals that fueled Cleantech's blockbuster year. Hundreds of smaller companies you've never heard of, like mc10, Inc., raised money in 2010, as well.
mc10 develops semiconductor circuitry that's flexible. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company believes its stretchy, bendy electronic materials can be applied to medical electronics, consumer products like athletic wear, industrial products such as automobiles, and military technologies in the energy generation, communication and sensing fields.
Last year mc10 re-upped its Series A round of funding, raising $550,000 in July from North Bridge Venture Partners, a bi-coastal seed-to-growth investor, Osage University Partners, a Bala Cynwyd, Penn.-based stage-agnostic, sector-agnostic investor in university commercialization start-ups. The investment was a follow-on to mc10's first venture investment. In December 2009, the company raised $5.66 million in equity from the aforementioned firms. According to an SEC filing, $1.7 million of the invested equity was converted bridge debt.
The cost of capital for east coast companies comparable to Mc10 is slightly lower today than it was in 2006 when mc10 got its start, according to the VC Experts Cost of Capital Benchmark tool. For west coast companies, the cost is significantly lower.
Founded in 2008, mc10's technology combines normal semiconductors with the mechanical properties of stretchable materials, based on the research of Prof. John Rogers of UIUC and Prof. George Whitesides of Harvard. Dave Icke, former head of Wireless and Consumer Business Units within the Semiconductor Test Division of Teradyne, serves as the company's CEO.
Last year the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded mc10 and Diagnostics For All a $100,000 grant to develop a disposable paper diagnostics tool to measure HIV viral load in AIDS patients. The company also launched a development collaboration with Reebok to embed electronics such as heart-rate monitors and Tks into clothing. While such products are already on the market, mc10's electronics won't require plastic casing inside the clothing.
Find in-depth information about fundraising rounds for mc10, as well as other Cleantech companies, at VC Experts Valuation & Deal Terms Database.