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Green technology tops venture capital funding

September 30, 2009 |  9:39 am
Tesla Roadster is charged through a power plug at the Frankfurt Auto Show. The maker of the electric car got $82.5 million in venture capital funding in the third quarter. Credit: Frank Augstein/Associated Press
Green technology attracted the largest share of venture capital in the third quarter with global investments rising to $1.59 billion, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Cleantech Group and Deloitte.

That’s a 10% increase from the second quarter but still down 42% from the same period last year.

Dallas Kachan, managing director of the Cleantech Group, said the third-quarter numbers are preliminary and he expects total investment to have risen by 15% to 20% when the final figures are calculated.

“Clean tech continues its recovery despite the lowest level of venture capital investment overall since 1997,” said Kachan. “Clean tech has gone from a niche category to 27% of all venture investment. It eclipses the amount being currently invested in biotech and software.”

In a sign that government policy is driving green tech investment, the biggest deals of the third quarter were for companies that have been beneficiaries of federal loans and grants.

Silicon Valley solar panel maker Solyndra raised $198 million and also scored a $535-million loan guarantee to help finance construction of a solar module factory. Electric carmaker Tesla Motors, meanwhile, both took in $82.5 million in venture capital funding while receiving a $465 million low-interest government loan to help it build a factory to produce its Model S sports sedan.

“Large government grants are opening the floodgates for venture capital,” said Kachan.

 --Todd Woody