Monday, December 15, 2008

Boston VCs Hope for Sunnier Days Ahead

From Sunday's Globe: 'Releasing Capital for Rays of Energy.' It deals with two of the newest-vintage photovoltaic start-ups in the Boston area, 1366 Technologies and Wakonda Technologies.

    To date, 1366, which traces its roots to MIT research, has raised $12 million from Polaris and North Bridge Venture Partners, another Waltham venture capital firm. Wakonda, which spun out from the Rochester Institute of Technology, has raised $9.5 million, much of it from Massachusetts-based venture firms Polaris, General Catalyst, and Advanced Technology Ventures. The two companies are located a few miles from one another, off Route 128 in Boston's northern suburbs.

    Polaris's involvement with two start-ups working on new approaches to wringing electricity from the sun is a little out of the ordinary but not unique; General Catalyst has funded two solar companies, and Advanced Technology Ventures has funded three. Over the past four years a roaring torrent of cash has been funneled into companies developing photovoltaic materials. According to Cambridge-based Greentech Media, a research firm, roughly $4.5 billion has been invested in about 150 solar start-ups in that time frame.

In the video, MIT prof. and 1366 co-founder Ely Sachs gives you a PV primer.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Audio: TIE's VC Outlook Panel from Jan. 31st

TIE's annual "VC Outlook" dinner was packed to the rafters late last month.... Mike Gaiss from Highland Capital was kind enough to post an audio recording of the discussion.

I moderated, and my panelists included Paul Maeder from Highland; Ajay Agarwal from Bain Capital Ventures; Hemant Taneja from General Catalyst Partners; and Bob Hower from ATV.

We started by talking about the climate for VC investing (2007 was the best year since 2001 for VC firms raising money, and start-ups raking in investments)... the economic outlook... some new areas the panelists are learning about (and perhaps investing in)... some businesses they feel are over-hyped and over-invested (mobile advertising was mentioned)... the globalization of VC... and the impact that sovereign wealth funds may have on tech companies and VC firms.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Looking Good is Getting More Expensive

Today's Globe column focuses on aesthetic medicine, and some of the companies developing drugs and devices to help us look better. From the piece:

    A cluster of New England companies is developing drugs and medical devices that will reduce wrinkles and cellulite, grow hair where you want it and remove it where you don't, and help you manage your impulse to overeat.

    And while keeping you young and slim may not be as socially redeeming as, say, devising a vaccine for the next flu pandemic, millions of dollars in venture capital funding are flowing into the sector dubbed "aesthetic medicine," puffing up local start-ups like a shot of collagen injected into a pair of lips.

    In 2005, the US market for aesthetic devices and therapies was $2 billion, according to Windhover Information -- a number that is expected to grow to $4.2 billion by 2010.

Leerink Swann & Co., a Boston investment bank, put out this report (PDF document) earlier in July. It's titled "Anti-Aging Breakthroughs: Future of the Aesthetics Market." It mentions a few companies with Massachusetts links that aren't in my column, including UltraShape (based in Israel but funded by Polaris Ventures) and Juniper Medical (built on science from the MassGeneral lab of Rox Anderson and funded by Advanced Technology Ventures, but headquartered in California.) Thanks to Leerink vice chair Dan Dubin for sharing it.

Here's the video from my conversation with Daphne Zohar, founder of PureTech ventures and interim CEO of Follica, a company that aims to develop a drug/device combination that will stimulate new hair follicle growth. We talk about the aesthetics market in general, some of the marketing and reimbursement issues, and the cultural divide between aesthetic medicine companies and more "serious" biotech and device companies.

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