Tag Archives: funding

ARPA-E – a new federal agency created to fund research of promising, but unproven, energy technologies

ARPA-E: A Good Beginning for U.S. Energy Innovation

By Bill Gates

Clean energy and innovation are two areas that I’m passionate about, so I’ve been looking forward to investigating some interesting new energy technologies at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit this week.

ARPA-E is a new federal agency—the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy—created in 2009 to fund research of promising, but unproven, energy technologies. It was modeled after DARPA—the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—which was established in the late 1950s to accelerate development of U.S. satellite technology to keep pace with the Soviet Union. Research at DARPA led to a number of fantastic breakthroughs, including GPS technology and the Internet.

The idea behind ARPA-E is to help the U.S. fast-track development of innovative energy technologies that wouldn’t typically be funded by traditional energy companies. If just a fraction of the projects are successful, they could reduce greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change, help the U.S. decrease its dependence on foreign oil, , and keep the U.S. competitive in advanced energy technologies.

I’ve been quite impressed with the people running ARPA-E. In less than three years, they have evaluated hundreds of proposals and made $521 million in grants to support 180 projects.

Keep reading – Bill Gates from The Gates Notes

 

 

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Environmentalist, and wealthy cofounder of Burt’s Bees, fights to create America’s next National Park

Burt’s Bees cofounder Roxanne Quimby wants to hand the government a new national park in northern Maine—election-year politics and residents’ NIMBYism be damned. Brian Kevin investigates the boldest conservation plan in decades.

Technically, this Idaho-shaped chunk of land, which contains a 30-mile stretch of the International Appalachian Trail, is known as the East Branch Sanctuary. But around Millinocket it’s simply referred to as “Quimby’s land.” The self-made millionaire owns it, along with 119,000 acres of other timber-company lands that she started buying up back in 2000, when Burt’s Bees was raking in about $23 million a year. Her plan was to give the property to the National Park Service, thereby galvanizing other donations that would eventually establish a 3.2-million-acre wilderness in the last great undeveloped region east of the Rockies.

But the campaign stalled out of the gate. Public land is a tough sell in northern Maine, where residents are accustomed to hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and cutting timber. Many didn’t cotton to the rhetoric of a wealthy environmentalist; others feared that the proposed park would spell the end of the region’s struggling paper mills.

But a dozen years and a few hundred Ban Roxanne bumper stickers later, Quimby is back with more practical ambitions. Last spring she announced plans for a dramatically reduced 74,000-acre Maine Woods National Park just east of Katahdin, carved entirely from her own property. And thanks to better diplomacy and a new emphasis on economic benefit, Quimby is beginning to win hearts and minds.

 

The uncut storyThe Fight to Create America’s Newest National Park

 

 

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Switzerland – Silicon Alps – joins the start-up ecosystem

Ah, Switzerland. The land of chocolate, cow-bells, skiing and prices that make you want to cry. A place that has built a global brand on providing a safe, risk-free haven for other people’s money and not being disruptive or belligerent. Clean, orderly and wonderfully peaceful — yes, the clichés are true.

Not then, you might think, a country especially suited to launching a startup — but you’d be wrong. Long a hub for high-tech and medical sciences, Switzerland now boasts an ecosystem of Internet entrepreneurs that’s blossoming as fast as the proverbial Edelweiss in spring.

“I don’t know any other country on Earth that is so good at seed funding,” enthuses Johannes Reck, co-founder and CEO of GetYourGuide. His story is illuminating — after founding GetYourGuide in 2008, his team was approached by a local bank with a seed funding offer, an out of the blue reversal of roles that typifies what’s happening here.

“In literally every other country in the world I’ve been to, entrepreneurs struggle so hard to get their first seed funding,” he says. “In Switzerland you have a lot of institutions who provide money, literally for free, very early on.”

 

via TNW Europe

 

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Read about start-ups scenes in L.A. and Berlin:

 

And, some beautiful photos of Switzerland:

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Bill Gates invests in the future of electricity storage – Liquid Metal Batteries

Liquid Metal Battery Corporation, an MIT spin out that’s developing new technologies for electricity storage, has raised $15 million in funding from Khosla Ventures, Total and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. The technology behind the company was developed by Dr. Donald Sadoway (his famous TED Talk), a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was recently named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

“Large-scale electricity storage will be a critical part of reinventing the global electric grid infrastructure, and LMBC has developed the most innovative chemically-based solution that we’ve seen,” said Andrew Chung of Khosla Ventures.

via GeekWire

 

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Bill believes that creating large-scale batteries to store energy is a critical problem to solve if solar and wind energy are to become mainstream. In this video, Bill and MIT Professor Donald Sadoway discuss the importance of new battery storage technology and Sadoway’s focus on the development of a “liquid metal” battery.

via Gates Notes

 

 

To get more technical, the liquid in the all-liquid battery is molten salt and liquid metal, which:

“…avoids cycle-to-cycle capacity fade because the liquid electrodes are reconstituted with each charge – similar systems have operated in a lab environment for more than 17 months with daily cycling and no reduction in performance. The molten salt electrolyte combines high conductivity with abuse tolerance at low cost. Self-segregation due to three immiscible liquid phases of different densities (e.g. oil and water separation) allows for robust operation and ease of manufacture. Together, these attributes will enable the liquid metal battery to exceed 70% round-trip AC efficiency for over a decade without degradation.”

Learn more on the2-page information sheet from LMBC (pdf)

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Etsy raises $40 million funding – giving craftrepreneurs an international marketplace

Etsy has closed $40 million of funding from a roster of investors who have been believers in Etsy for a long time. I couldn’t be happier to have such a committed set of partners who “get it” along for the next stage.

What do we plan to do with the money we’ve raised? Two simple things, really: we plan to grow Etsy into an economic force all around the world and we want to provide more products and services to help sellers succeed and build their businesses on the Etsy platform. You’ve seen a start in some of these areas — our Etsy in German and French launches…

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Looking back, Etsy was quite small by today’s measures — the community sold $7.93 million of goods in September 2008. We had about 50 employees and we were in an office in downtown Brooklyn with a broken elevator that famously had a sign that read, “You gotta press up to go down.”

Almost four years later, many things have changed. We have different offices near the Brooklyn Bridge, a working elevator, almost 300 employees, and last month alone, the community sold about $65 million in goods. Each month, 40 million people around the world visit Etsy, with 15 million registered members and 875,000 sellers generating those sales in 150 countries.

(2011 sales – $525 million)

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We believe, more than ever, that Etsy can help fundamentally change the way the world works by making it possible for individuals to make and sell things to other people around the globe — a people-powered economy.

…we published last fall provides an inspiring blueprint for the better world that we envision:

Decades of an unyielding focus on economic growth and a corporate mentality has left us ever more disconnected with nature, our communities, and the people and processes behind the objects in our lives. We think this is unethical, unsustainable, and unfun. However, with the rise of small businesses around the world we feel hope and see real opportunities: Opportunities for us to measure success in new ways… to build local, living economies, and most importantly, to help create a more permanent future.

via – Etsy News

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President, Congress pass bill to allow venture capital funding via crowd sourcing

Earlier this month, President Obama sign the JOBS bill into law with strong bipartisan support, and no this isn’t the one you’re thinking of. This one is designed specifically for funding start-ups with a particular focus on crowd funding (i.e. Kickstarter).

Explained by author and professor, Jeff Jarvis:

The JOBS bill being signed by President Obama today is critical to the emergence and growth of the next generation of industries as ecosystems.

Those ecosystems are made up of three layers: platforms, entrepreneurial ventures, and networks.

Platforms (Google, Amazon, Salesforce, Facebook, Kickstarter, Federal Express, Foxconn), which make it possible for entrepreneurial ventures to be built at lower cost with less capital and reduced risk at greater speed. To provide the critical mass that large corporations used to provide — to, for example, sell advertising at scale or acquire distribution or acquire goods or services at volume — sometimes these ventures need to band together in networks (Glam, YouTube, Etsy, eBay).

The bill supports this flourishing start-up trend by updating some outdated laws, from the 1930s, and correcting some from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

Of interest to us, the regular people:

  • Entrepreneurs can raise up to $1 million per year through those approved crowd funding channels.
  • Investors with incomes of less than $100K will be limited to 5 percent, or $2K, investments.
  • Those who make over $100K/year will be limited at 10 percent, or $10K.

Previously, one could not sell equity through crowd funding and only registered investors with $100,000 could fund a company. Now, with the crowd sourcing provision anyone can get in on the action.

This is great for the industry and those with a nose for investing, but do be wary. Internet scammers and unskilled entrepreneurs will soon be asking for your money to fund the next Google.

 

Learn more about the billJumpstart Our Business Start-ups (JOBS) Act

 

// Photo – Guano

Venture capitalists invested $5.8 billion in the first quarter of 2012

Venture capitalists invested $5.8 billion in 758 deals in the first quarter of 2012.

The report shows that after a strong fourth quarter 2011, VC investment activity for the quarter fell 19 percent in terms of dollars and 15 percent in the number of deals compared to the fourth quarter of 2011 when $7.1 billion was invested in 889 deals.

  • Life Sciences and Clean Technology sectors saw decreases
  • Double-digit percentage increases in the Consumer Products and Services, and Telecommunications industries.
  • The Software industry received the highest level of funding for all industries

 

Read the full reportLeena Rao, TechCrunch

 

Profiles on the million dollar projects of Kickstarter

Idea Lab:

On Monday, Kickstarter saw the third project in its short history, a Web comic book, raise over $1 million.

Before that, the first two projects to cross the million dollar mark — a computer adventure game and a fetching American-made iPhone dock — did so just days prior, on February 10, and both within 24 hours of each other.

Kickstarter chronicled the amazing day on its blog.

 

The Million Dollar Projects

Order of the Stick – the web-comic author asked his fans to pre-order printed editions of back issues. Every pledge gets a copy of the book and higher pledges get extra goodies.

Currently raised – $1.25 million

 

Double Fine Adventure - game designers at Double Fine Productions asked fans to finance a new computer game and make a behind-the-scenes documentary about the process. The campaign started with a video (below) that is really, really entertaining. Each pledge receives a copy of the game, access to members-only forum, more fun videos, and higher pledges get even more exclusive content.

Currently raised – $2.09 million

 
 
 

Elevation Dock: the best dock for iPhone – Casey Hopkins wants to create a CNC machined (i.e. precision computer manufacturing) iPhone dock that is made-in-America, looks spectacular, and solves all the problems of docking. He presents a video to explain it all. The minimum pledge is $59 and gets you the dock (retail price will $99) and higher pledges receive extra goodies.

Currently raised – $1.46 million

Kickstarter to provide more funding for arts than NEA

Kickstarter is having an amazing year, even by the standards of other white hot Web startup companies, and more is yet to come.

(The Start-up) is on track to distribute over $150 million dollars to its users’ projects in 2012, or more than entire fiscal year 2012 budget for the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA), which was $146 million.

“Our entire lifetime funding is about $150 million,” said Strickler, “But $99 million was pledged last year alone.”

via Idea Lab