Thursday, August 6, 2009

VC-Backed Companies Left In The Cold By DOE Battery Grants

Pity. I'm convinced that the government could make money off the VC's by requiring warrants, dollar-for-dollar, priced as a down-round. I wonder what Mr. Doerr would think about that idea?
From Dow Jones Venture Wire:
For every five applicants for the U.S. Department of Energy's $2.4 billion of grants for advanced battery and component manufacturers, four were handed the disappointing news Wednesday that they didn't make the list.

A total of 257 companies applied for the $2.4 billion in grants, seeking a total of $9.6 billion. The awards followed intense competition, with battery makers hiring lobbyists and outside consultants, and appealing to home-state lawmakers.

Among the disappointed companies were a number of eager venture-backed start-ups, raising the question of whether this money will address the lack of private capital available to take promising technologies to market.

Analysts and investors said the DOE seems to be playing safe it in its selection of 48 companies, picking big names and companies that plan to build plants in Michigan, the home of the ailing U.S. automobile industry.

Venture-backed A123Systems Inc. was among the largest winners, with a $249.1 million grant, but it counts established firms such as GE Energy Financial Services' venture arm as one of its backers and has filed to go public. The only other venture-backed company on the list is EnerG2 Inc., a Seattle-based start-up developing nanoparticles for use in ultracapacitors that closed an $8.5 million Series A round in October, led by OVP Venture Partners and FireLake Capital Management.

For a slew of smaller companies that saw themselves as responding to the government's call to bring manufacturing back to the U.S., and were keen on getting the endorsement of the DOE - and with it, the easier access to private markets – the outcome was a let-down. In the longer-term, the government's commitment to funding advanced batteries is a nod to the technology and they will all ultimately be winners if that industry blooms, they said....MORE