Cleantech fund Terra raises $15m

Two investments have already been made.

Sources inform ''Globes'' that cleantech fund Terra Venture Partners LP has raised its first $15 million and made its first two investments. The fund plans to raise up to $40-50 million by year-end. The funds investors are European tycoons who want to invest in new high-tech. A leading European fund of funds that focuses on renewable energy is also an investor.

Terra general partners Harold Wiener, an immigrant from Uruguay, and Astorre Modena, an immigrant from Italy, founded the fund in May 2006. They confirmed the report saying that most of the funds investors work in cleantech or have links to it, which gives the fund a strong network in Europe that will help its portfolio companies.

Terra has already examined a great many technologies and made two investments. It has made a seed-stage investment in IQWind Ltd., a company founded in August 2007 that is developing an innovative gearbox that will improve the efficiency of wind turbines. IQWind CEO Gideon Ziegelman, an electrical engineer who invented the gearbox, and CTO Nimrod Eitan, a mechanical engineer with more than 30 years experience, founded the company.

Ziegelman and Eitan say that their gearbox can be retrofitted to existing wind turbines as well as being installed on new ones. The system costs $1.5 million per megawatt.

Terra has not disclosed the size of its investment in IQWind, but Wiener and Modena said that they plan to invest $15 million in ten start-ups, suggesting that the investment was less than $1 million.

Terra has also invested in Phoebus Ltd., which was also founded in August 2007. The company is developing a system to save up to half of water heating expenses for large facilities, such as hospitals, hotels, pools, and so forth. The company was founded by Yoav Ben-Yaakov, who has a degree in economics and political science and a wealth of experience in energy.

Wiener and Modena declined to disclose details about Phoebuss technology because it has not yet completed its patent registration. They were only willing to admit that the technology slashes air pollution by institutions and that it does not use mined fuels. Wiener and Modena also declined to disclose the size of Terras investment in the company.

Globes: What stage do you plan to invest in?

Wiener: Our model is to focus on seed and early-stage investments in start-ups with solutions that meet existing market needs. We plan to use the $15 million weve raised to invest in about ten companies, and to invest in about 20 companies when weve raised our $50 million target.

Have you set any limits for Terras investments?

Modena: We wont invest in first-generation biofuel because we think that this direction is wrong and will be short-lived. We definitely believe in cellulite biomass, which we see as the third leg of biofuel. We see a bright future for biofuel from seaweed, which is a brand new sector.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on October 29, 2007

Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2007

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