New Clean Tech Venture Capital Funds

The clean tech investment sector on both sides of the Atlantic received a boost this week with the launch of two major new venture capital funds.

In the US, new venture capital firm Olympus Capital officially debuted yesterday, bucking the trend that has seen a number of investment firms quietly close down over the past couple of years.

The company, which is headed up by Rami Elkhatib, a former venture capitalist at Southeast Interactive Technology Funds, reportedly closed its first $150m (£103.5m) fund late last year and has signaled that it is preparing to invest between $7m and $15m per deal in late stage firms in the clean tech and IT sectors.

The firm also confirmed that it has taken its first punt, playing a part in the latest $41.5m investment round for printable solar cell firm Solexant.

Meanwhile, European-based clean tech private equity firm WHEB Ventures announced today that it has closed its second dedicated clean technology fund, raising £105.4m for investment in low carbon firms.

The company, which has already made six investments since closing its first round, is primarily focused on clean tech firms operating in the energy efficiency, green industrial processes and waste management sectors.

The firm said that the latest round of funding was raised from a mixture of family offices and institutional investors, including the European Investment Fund and the Environmental Innovation Fund managed by Hermes GPE LLP.

James McNaught-Davis, WHEB's Managing Partner, hailed the closure of the funding round as a major milestone given the current financial climate. " Raising more than £105m during the deepest recession since the 1930s is an achievement," he said. "WHEB Ventures is one of very few cleantech venture capital firms to have raised significant amounts of capital since September 2008."

In related news, UK-based environmental investment manager and advisory group Climate Change Capital announced yesterday that it has set up a new European renewable energy infrastructure asset management team.

The company added that it has appointed Stephen Lilley, who formerly worked in the European infrastructure fund at M&G/Prudential Group, to head up the team, which will work on identifying opportunities in the booming renewable energy market.

Shaun Mays, chief executive at Climate Change Capital, predicted that the new team will play a key role in the company's future growth. "With our partners in the EU increasingly committed to stricter emissions targets and a new UK government, it has become clear that this will mean a massive change in the way we make and consume energy," he said. "The complete overhaul of the energy infrastructure will need considerable amounts of private capital to finance it. "

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