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Ines Bergmann pitches corporate venture capital provided by E.ON

Ecosummit TV: We just met Ines Bergmann at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco where she is spending 6 months scouting new innovation that can be brought to Europe. At ECO14 Berlin, Ines pitches the benefits of corporate venture capital provided by E.ON. The German utility is one of the most active corporate co-investors in smart energy startups. E.ON’s added value is rolling out the products of their portfolio companies to their 35 million customers, increasing startup revenues one market after the other. This turns out to be a very useful market entry strategy especially for US startups planning to enter Europe. E.ON’s portfolio includes Orcan Energy (ECO14 Award Bronze), Thermondo, Autogrid, Firstfuel, Sungevity, Opower and Bloom Energy. While many utilities are also working on becoming technology companies, it remains to be seen when E.ON’s CVC activities will result in the first acquisitions.

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Jan Marckhoff pitches BEN Energy

Ecosummit TV: Jan Marckhoff pitches BEN Energy at ECO14 Berlin. The smart green startup enables customer intelligence and engagement for utilities and competes with Opower and Tendril. Being the market leader in Switzerland, BEN Energy recently entered the German market and already won a large customer and a powerful distribution partner. The founders successfully bootstrapped their spin-off from ETH Zurich to €1M annual revenues and are currently raising their first financing round. Jan will pitch again at ECO15 Berlin to change the way people experience energy.

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Felix Grolman pitches Grundgrün

Ecosummit TV: Felix Grolman pitches Grundgrün at ECO14 Berlin. The Berlin-based startup is building a next generation smart green utility focusing 100% on renewable energy. Grundgrün’s core business is the direct marketing of renewable energy assets that they sell on short-term, long-term and balancing markets as well as directly to households and companies. The key to their success is an integrated IT infrastructure that enables sourcing, trading and distribution of energy as well as innovative energy services such as virtual power plants and production forecasting. Founded in 2011, Grundgrün is a fast-growing late stage startup with a team of 65 employees and backed by the family office Aeris Capital. Grundgrün is currently fundraising to further accelerate growth in Germany and new international markets.

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David Brown pitches Canatu

Ecosummit TV: Kids actually think that everything should be touchable. So the challenge is how to be interactive on any surface. David Brown pitches Canatu at ECO14 Berlin. Canatu develops transparent conductive films used in touchscreens and flexible displays, serving high growth multi-billion dollar markets. Canatu’s goal is to replace Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) that is used in today’s touchscreens. Canatu invented the NanoBud, a (semi-)conductive, flexible nanomaterial that can be deposited on any substrate in a roll-to-roll direct dry printing process. Canatu was spun-off from the NanoMaterials Group at Helsinki University of Technology and has got 29 employees. The Finnish startup currently looks for €15M to scale the technology and business.

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Jay Marathe of Cartagena Capital takes startups from fundraising to successful exits

Ecosummit TV: Startups and VCs alike share the need for more and better exits. While we believe that Pan-European co-investing is an important success factor for achieving good exits, we acknowledge that exits are challenging and often are facilitated by corporate finance advisors representing the sell or buy side. In this context, Jay Marathe of Cartagena Capital talks about taking startups from fundraising to successful exits at ECO14 Berlin. The timing of the exit is key. Startups should constantly listen to the market for strong exit signals: competitors get acquired, customers place huge orders or buyers have lots of cash and start calling. At the same time, it makes sense to continue fundraising and creating value until you reach key valuation milestones and have a nice selection of LOIs from multiple buyers on the table. A recent exit is the $100M acquisition of AlertMe by British Gas, their biggest customer and one of their VCs. This transaction also enabled the second exit of SET Ventures.

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Alexandre Askmo pitches Exeger

Ecosummit TV: Alexandre Askmo pitches Exeger at ECO14 Berlin. Exeger is the most-advanced developer of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSC) that have been invented by Professor Michael Grätzel in 1991. The Stockholm-based startup was founded in 2009, raised more than $30M and is supported by the Swedish Energy Agency. In 2014, Exeger inaugurated the world’s largest DSC factory that uses screen printing in the city centre of Stockholm. Dye-sensitzed solar cells are less sensitive to light angle and provide stable efficiency in all light and temperature conditions. As DSCs can be designed in any colour and printed on any shape a lot of applications are possible including consumer electronics, wearable devices and building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). Exeger works on commercial prototyping this year and plans its commercial launch in 2016 for which they are fundraising another $10-20M.

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Nils Aldag pitches Sunfire

Ecosummit TV: Nils Aldag pitches Sunfire at ECO14 Berlin. The Dresden-based late stage startup makes very efficient solid oxide electrolysers and fuel cells using the same technology platform. Last year Sunfire won Ecosummit Award 2014 Silver and entered Cleantech Group’s 2014 Global Cleantech 100. Sunfire has got 80 employees and is backed by Electranova Capital, Total Energy Ventures, Bilfinger Venture Capital and KfW. Their impressive list of customers includes ThyssenKrupp and Vaillant. Upon request Nils will share more customers that prove Sunfire’s enormous market traction that may lead to €10M revenues in 2015. Nils currently raises their next financing round and welcomes new strategic and financial investors that believe in Sunfire’s growth potential in the global hydrogen market.

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Soren Mouritsen pitches ROMO Wind

Ecosummit TV: There are more than 350.000 wind turbines operating and there is still a lot to be done to optimise performance by harmonising the wind direction and turbine orientation in realtime. At ECO14 Berlin, Soren Mouritsen pitches ROMO Wind and explains how the iSpin technology is able to continuously measure wind direction and speed in front of the rotor, rather than behind, and correct the yaw misalignment of the turbine accordingly. This increases wind farm production by 2 percent creating a target market of 1 billion Euros. The Swiss startup has got 23 employees and is backed by Yellow&Blue, ABB Technology Ventures, b-to-v and the business angel Christian Reitberger. Existing customers include Vattenfall and EDP Renewables. ROMO Wind is currently fundraising again and interested in talking to new investors.

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Smart green VCs you should know

Since 2010, we got to know many smart green VCs in Europe and the US and have written 35 short fund profiles (last update: 29 January 2015). In the VC food chain, there are investors who love to invest, at lower valuations and higher risk, in early stage startups that are just about to take their technology innovation from lab to fab and to the market. A growing number of VCs prefer backing late stage startups that enable shorter holding periods (time-to-exit) because they already have substantial revenues (€5M plus), experienced management teams and low technology and market risk. The result are different investment strategies and portfolios that startups should know before pitching.

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Alexander van Os pitches Yellow&Blue

Ecosummit TV: Smart green energy is the only way to go. The energy market is changing rapidly thanks to technological and business model innovation coming from all directions. This creates a lot of investment opportunities for smart green VCs such as Yellow&Blue. Funded with €40M by the Dutch utility Nuon (Vattenfall Group), the Utrecht-based VC looks for capital efficient startups that make the energy value chain cleaner and more flexible with a focus on smart grid and energy efficiency. Alexander van Os and his partners are famous for their successful exit of Entelios to Enernoc in February 2014. At ECO14 Berlin, Yellow&Blue showcased their portfolio company ROMO Wind that optimises the performance of wind turbines and is currently fundraising again.

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Yüksel Sirmasac pitches Rockethome

Ecosummit TV: Smart energy and smart home, empowered by the Internet of Things (IoT), are hot markets that continue to attract a growing number of startups. One of the established German smart home enablers with a strong focus on usability is Rockethome that was founded in 2010 in Cologne. At ECO14 Berlin, Yüksel Sirmasac gives a company update and pitches Rockethome. The startup provides a software platform for smart home services that connects all kinds of devices and applications. The Rockethome solution is already licensed to 40 telcos and city utilities in 6 countries. Rockethome has got 35 employees, doubles revenues every year and is backed by Born2grow, a seed fund managed by Zukunftsfonds Heilbronn, and KfW. Now Yüksel is interested in talking to new financial and strategic investors that can help grow the business.

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Holger Ulland pitches O-Flexx

Ecosummit TV: Waste heat is a very big but rarely used energy resource. Being back at Ecosummit, Holger Ulland pitches O-Flexx at ECO14 Berlin. The smart green startup develops and manufactures in their Duisburg-based 1 MW factory thermoelectric generators that convert heat to electricity. The thermoelectric generators can be used in the steel, automotive and locomotive industries as well as for heating systems and autonomous sensors. The first customers are SMS Siemag (steel plants) and Bombardier (diesel locomotives). O-Flexx is backed by Emerald Technology Ventures and NRW Bank whom they met at ECO12 Berlin. O-Flexx has got a very strong IP portfolio, first revenues and is currently fundraising to accelerate its growth.

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Silvan Rath pitches ParkTAG

Ecosummit TV: Parking is big: every drive starts and ends in a parking space. Moreover, cars are parked 95% of the day and 30% of urban traffic is caused by drivers looking for parking. Having developed a mobile solution to the parking problem, Silvan Rath pitches ParkTAG at ECO14 Berlin. ParkTAG operates a social parking community that enables car drivers to find available parking places with their smartphones. The ParkTAG app uses the built-in sensors of the device to track user movement and learns automatically when the user is parking a car or vacating a parking space and driving away. The Berlin-based early stage startup was founded in 2014 and is backed by High-Tech Gründerfonds, Germany’s leading seed investor. ParkTAG’s capital efficient business model is to license its smart parking technology to partners that market it to their customers.

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Paul Leibold pitches Adaptive City Mobility and its City Etaxi

Ecosummit TV: Paul Leibold pitches Adaptive City Mobility and its City Etaxi at ECO14 Berlin. The capital efficient strategy for developing a new electric vehicle is a value web of strong partners that contribute technology, people and capital to co-develop a new car and co-create a new market. That’s exactly what Paul did when he brought together Vispiron, Roding, BMZ, Heinzmann and Fraunhofer ESK in 2012 to work on his dream of an electric taxi optimised for smart green cities. The partners jointly invested €10M and received funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The City Etaxi is a lightweight 3 seater that supports battery swapping and reaches 80 km/h. Now Paul looks for investors and ambitious city managers that want to support pilot projects with connected etaxi fleets.

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WeSustain raises €4M Series B from VNT Management, HTGF, KfW and MBG

Ecosummit TV: Every company in every industry has to go green and make and sell sustainable products. At the same time, smart green investors take sustainability reports very seriously when making investment decisions. In September 2014, the EU Commission issued their long-awaited directive for mandatory sustainability reports for companies with more than 500 employees that has to be translated into national law within 2 years. Now Enterprise Sustainability Management (ESM) software providers like WeSustain are en vogue. CEO Manfred Heil expects the market to triple within the next 4 years. Customer references like Daimler, Commerzbank and Allianz as well as reseller Telekom will help the well positioned German startup and its team of 20 employees to grow even faster than the market.

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