Visiting UK Energy Efficiency Companies Eye US Venture Capital

Dec. 8, 2013
US venture capital in energy efficiency is the envy of energy efficiency companies in the UK, and a handful visited the US in early December to attract funding and partnerships.

US clean tech investors understand immediately the value of UK-based Agility Global’s technology—in ways investors don’t in the UK, said Lawrence Marazzi, CEO of Agility Global, a UK-based manufacturer of efficient sports motorcycles.

And that’s one of the reasons he was in Denver Dec. 2-6 with 15 other UK clean tech companies, as part of the “Clean and Cool Mission 2013.” The goal of the mission is to showcase UK green technologies and potentially attract investment and opportunities to market the technologies in the US.

The companies’ visit took place while the National Renewable Energy Laboratory was holding its Industry Growth Forum in Denver.

“We help companies create projects better and faster,” said Rob Saunders, head of energy with the Technology Strategy Board, a government agency in the UK that helped organize the event.

“There’s a different scale of investment community here.  Also, it provides a diversity of experience. If you have a product that’s struggling to find investment in the UK, there’s a chance you can find investment in the US,” he said.

Some of the visiting cleantech companies are seeking investors; others are looking for US partners and trying to reach US markets, he said.

Agility Global already received $1.8 million in seed funding from the UK government and is seeking $2.5 million in venture capital, said Marazzi.

Agility Global, one of the more advanced companies taking part in the mission, has attracted interest in the US for in its engine and transmission technology, which has many potential applications, said Marazzi.

The company’s all-electric sports motorcycle boasts a 95 percent efficiency rate due to its unique motor and transmission technology, and yields 350 to 450 miles per gallon. In the UK, a typical gasoline-powered motorcycle is about 20 percent efficient and yields 30 to 35 miles per gallon, he said.

The engine and transmission could be applied to automobiles, light commercial vehicles, delivery vehicles, and other electric motor applications, he said.

Other UK companies taking part in the mission include Magnifye, which makes superconducting magnets used to improve the efficiency of any electrical machine.; Moixa Technology, which plans to put millions of smart batteries into customer premises to reduce peak period demand on the grid and improve the energy efficiency of essential direct current devices, such as lights and mobile phones; and Sunamp, which has developed a heat battery that is super-compact but can store heat from conventional and non-conventional heat pumps and boilers, delivering it quickly and with maximum energy efficiency, as needed.

The companies hope US investors will quickly grasp the value of these energy efficiency technologies.  Investment in energy efficiency is booming in the US, says Sheeraz Haji, CEO of the market intelligence firm Cleantech Group. In its latest report – about third quarter 2013 – energy efficiency topped the investment charts in clean tech, with 33 investment deals in energy efficiency.

Why is energy efficiency investment booming? Where is it headed? Join the conversation on our LinkedIn group here: Energy Efficiency Markets LinkedIn Group

About the Author

Lisa Cohn | Contributing Editor

I focus on the West Coast and Midwest. Email me at [email protected]

I’ve been writing about energy for more than 20 years, and my stories have appeared in EnergyBiz, SNL Financial, Mother Earth News, Natural Home Magazine, Horizon Air Magazine, Oregon Business, Open Spaces, the Portland Tribune, The Oregonian, Renewable Energy World, Windpower Monthly and other publications. I’m also a former stringer for the Platts/McGraw-Hill energy publications. I began my career covering energy and environment for The Cape Cod Times, where Elisa Wood also was a reporter. I’ve received numerous writing awards from national, regional and local organizations, including Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Willamette Writers, Associated Oregon Industries, and the Voice of Youth Advocates. I first became interested in energy as a student at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, where I helped design and build a solar house.

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