Click above for more images of the Aptera Typ1 e

Way back in September of 2006, Google.org, the philanthropic part of the Internet giant, announced that it would be investing in PHEVs. The following year, Google followed that bit of news up by launching its RechargeIT initiative which would begin investing in some for-profit manufacturers in an effort to see these fuel-saving products make it to market as quickly as possible. The first two investments from RechargeIT have now officially been announced, and at least one of the companies benefiting from the $2.75 million investment should be well known to our readers: Aptera.

We've been covering the futuristic new vehicle since it was first introduced, and its exciting to see the project mature to the point where people, in California at least, are anxiously awaiting the first electric Apteras to be delivered. This financing should only help matters as the company works to get its electric and hybrid vehicles to customers as quickly as possible.

The other company receiving some funding is known as ActaCell and is based in Austin, Texas. Based at the University of Texas, Actacel is hard at work refining its lithium ion battery technology with the goal of producing low cost, high output cells while retaining a high degree of safety. A tall order for sure, though one that could be made easier with its newfound cash outlay. We've pasted ActaCell's press release after the break. Thanks for the tip, Karen!


[Source: Google.org via Cleantech]

ActaCell Press Release:

AUSTIN, Texas – July 22, 2008 – ActaCell, Inc. announced today that it secured $5.8 million in Series A financing. DFJ Mercury led the round with syndicate investment from Google.org's RechargeIT program, Applied Ventures, LLC, the venture capital arm of Applied Materials, Inc. and Good Energies, a leading global investor in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industry. The proceeds from the Series A financing will be used to hire key technical talent and to further develop ActaCell's innovative lithium-ion battery technology for commercial purposes.

ActaCell, Inc. is an Austin-based technology start-up commercializing lithium-ion battery technology developed in Professor Arumugam Manthiram's Material Science and Engineering lab at The University of Texas at Austin. This new technology is focused on delivering substantially longer cycle life at low cost while maintaining safety as the number one priority. The Material Science and Engineering program at the University of Texas has a long history of innovation in lithium ion chemistries.

"We were highly impressed with ActaCell's pedigree," said Ned Hill, managing director at DFJ Mercury. "We believe their technology will significantly impact industries that rely on rechargeable batteries, particularly those that require high power and long cycle life such as Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles. Low cost, long life and safety are key attributes of ActaCell's battery roadmap, the holy grail of battery technologies on the market today."

RechargeIT is a Google.org initiative that aims to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, cut oil use and stabilize the electrical grid by accelerating the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid technology. Google.org demonstrates the technology using its own fleet and supporting others through grants and investments.

"When we launched RechargeIT we announced a request for investment proposals, hoping to identify top entrepreneurs finding innovative transportation solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming," said Gregory Miller, Google.org's managing director of investments. "Google.org is delighted to include ActaCell among the exciting companies we're supporting."

In connection with this transaction, DFJ Mercury's Ned Hill will join the ActaCell board of directors along with Dr. James R. Akridge, former Senior Director of Technology at Energizer and former CEO at Valence Technology, Inc.

"We are very pleased to have received financing from such prestigious and credible sources as DFJ Mercury, Google.org, Applied Ventures and Good Energies," said Bill Ott, President & CEO of ActaCell, Inc. "Battery technologies are the grand challenge facing development of cost effective Electric Vehicles today, and we are excited about the prospects of commercializing this technology from the University of Texas. Our development efforts will have an important impact on the current energy storage landscape in terms of delivered price and performance."

Still in the development phase, ActaCell's technology has not been publicly disclosed. Full product and technology announcements will follow in early 2009.

About DFJ Mercury

DFJ Mercury is a Texas-based seed and early-stage venture capital fund. We invest in companies with disruptive innovations that address large market opportunities in the information technology, life sciences, and cleantech sectors. A member of the global intelligence network of Draper Fisher Jurvetson funds, DFJ Mercury seeks to partner with extraordinary entrepreneurs to build globally competitive businesses. Our team has a long track record of launching, growing and investing in early-stage companies. We believe that the most important ingredient in any start-up is the entrepreneur, and our philosophy is to help entrepreneurs build their businesses even from the very early stages. For more information, visit: www.dfjmercury.com.

About Google.org (RechargeIT)

Google.org is a hybrid philanthropy that uses a range of approaches to help advance solutions to address the global challenges of our age: climate change, poverty and emerging disease. The organization operates in a traditional manner by supporting partner work with targeted grants, but can also invest in for-profit endeavors, such as efforts by companies to develop breakthrough technologies. For more information, please visit http://www.google.org.

About Applied Ventures

Applied Ventures, LLC, a subsidiary of Applied Materials, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMAT), invests in early stage companies with high growth potential pursuing technologies that are complementary to Applied Materials' core business and can stimulate the growth of applications for semiconductors, flat panel displays and related products and services. Applied Materials is the global leader in Nanomanufacturing Technology™ solutions with a broad portfolio of innovative equipment, service and software products for the fabrication of semiconductor chips, flat panel displays, solar photovoltaic modules and cells, flexible electronics and energy efficient glass. Learn more at www.appliedmaterials.com.

About Good Energies

Good Energies is a leading global investor in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industry, focusing on investments in solar and wind as well as energy efficiency and green buildings. The company also makes investments in the developing world and in other game changing energy technologies. Good Energies is a member of COFRA Group, a privately owned group of companies. The investor is guided by the 3-P principle of People-Planet-Profit and is looking for meaningful long-term investments with outstanding growth potential. Being an investment firm, it seeks to help drive the transition to a low carbon, clean energy economy, including bringing affordable renewable energy to the developing world. Good Energies operates globally with offices in London, New York, Toronto, Washington D.C., and Zug. The annual investment budget is 350 million Euros (approx. 500 million US dollars). The current market capitalization of its portfolio amounts to more than four billion Euros (approx. six billion US dollars). For more information, please visit the Good Energies website at www.goodenergies.com.

About ActaCell, Inc.

ActaCell is an Austin-based technology company with deep roots at The University of Texas at Austin. ActaCell is pioneering refinements to battery technology that will deliver long cycle life at low cost with safety as the number one priority.

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