Cleantech VC reaches $1.9B in 1Q10

As reported by IVC Online, transportation attracted $704M this past quarter, while energy efficiency and solar remain key sectors to watch, according to latest Cleantech Group data.

Cleantech venture capital investment was up 29 percent in the first quarter of 2010 compared to last quarter, and 83 percent higher than the same quarter a year ago, according to the Cleantech Group.

The company, in conjunction with Deloitte & Touche, released preliminary findings today that indicate a record number of deals, even besting the previous high of 165 deals worldwide recorded in the fourth quarter of 2009 (see Cleantech hits VC deal record in 2009).

“The first quarter’s bounce back in terms of venture capital investment compared to 2009’s early lows bodes well for what we think is in store for the remainder of the year,” said the Cleantech Group’s President Sheeraz Haji.

He said the preliminary first quarter results—totaling $1.9 billion invested across 180 cleantech companies with a focus on North America, Europe, China and India—confirm some of the key trends the Cleantech Group predicted for 2010 (see Ten clean technology predictions for 2010).

The Cleantech Group has been tracking the sector since 1999 and provides research, advisory services, and networking events around the world. The group also publishes this Web site.

“North America was particularly dominant this quarter,” said Haji, highlighting how the region raised $1.5 billion, up 79 percent from a dip in 4Q09, which he said seems to have been “a blip.”

North America accounted for 81 percent of total venture investment this quarter—a three-year high for the region.

European and Israeli companies were off to a slower start, raising $257 million in 43 disclosed rounds, down 49 percent from 4Q09. Europe and Israel accounted for 14 percent of the total investment this quarter.

China and India investments remained similar to previous quarters, combined to still make up less than 5 percent of the total investment in cleantech.

Transportation, predominantly infrastructure and vehicles, and energy efficiency are now the top sectors to watch, Haji said, with a hot sub-sector being LED lighting.

Better Place inked the second largest VC cleantech deal we have ever recorded,” Haji said. The electric vehicle battery swapping company secured a Series B round of $350 million in January (see Better Place $350M deal bested by Airtricity).

Transportation had a record quarter, raising $704 million aided by the Better Place round, while energy efficiency won the popularity contest from investors, with 39 funding rounds.

The solar sector has lost some of its previous dominance, but still proves to be an area investors are interested in, bringing in $322 million from 27 deals.

According to Cleantech Group data, the most active cleantech VC investors this quarter included Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Braemar Energy Ventures, Carbon Trust Investments, Foundation Capital, and Good Energies (see New cash keeps Genomatica on track for chemical plant, Nexamp closes Series A round, brings on new CEO, Agile Energy raises $13.2M for PV projects in N. America).

Haji said the IPO window hasn’t shut down; it may just be on hold until the second or third quarter of this year. Many of the high profile companies planning to go public in the U.S. in late 2009/early 2010 haven’t followed through.

There were 13 cleantech IPOs in the quarter, totaling $1.5 billion, down from 18 IPOs in the fourth quarter of 2009, which totaled $2.9 billion. China made up eight of those transactions, taking the lead over North America, which only had three cleantech IPOs.

The Netherlands-based sensor maker Sensata Technologies (NYSE:ST) had the quarter’s largest IPO earlier this month, raising $569 million in its offering on the New York Stock Exchange (see Sensata floats largest cleantech IPO in two years and Sensors, solar, Series A rounds in week’s deals).

The Cleantech Group will review key findings of the first quarter 2010 data in a live webinar for clients on April 6.

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