SunEthanol raises $25 million for cellulosic ethanol breakthrough, and announces name change to Qteros
Qteros | Venrock, Battery Ventures, BP and Soros Fund Management LLC among investors of the company renamed for the “Q Microbe” that turns plants and waste into fuel for cars. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick today announced Qteros’ new name and Series B funding in a speech in Boston at the Fourth Conference on Clean Energy during Clean Energy Week in Massachusetts. Qteros has been singled out as one of the state’s premier clean-tech companies.
Qteros has been singled out as one of the state’s premier clean-tech companies. It will be celebrated on Thursday, Nov. 20 along with other outstanding Massachusetts green companies at the “Green Tie Gala” at Boston’s Museum of Science.
Gov. Patrick has been a staunch supporter of the company, describing it as discovering and now commercializing a “transformational breakthrough.” Other state and national leaders have also recognized Qteros this year as one of the most promising emerging clean energy companies, and it has received four U.S. Department of Energy grants and a grant from the National Science Foundation.
The biofuels startup that began with a professor’s discovery in the woods of Massachusetts of an exceptionally efficient microbe for making cellulosic ethanol will now scale up its process from the pilot plant to commercial operations, and hire additional engineers and scientists, company
“Qteros and the Q Microbe™ will make a major contribution to achieving the two-pronged objective of energy independence and reduced emissions of global warming gases,” said company President and CEO Dr. Bill Frey, who spent 28 years at DuPont and led DuPont’s biofuels division before taking the reins of SunEthanol in June. “We are very pleased to be working with some of the best, value-add investors in the world. These partners will allow us to get to market with people who are experts in building very large and valuable companies.”
Steve Goldby, the Venrock partner on the investment, commented, “The past century has seen extraordinary innovation in chemistry, and we believe that fundamental biology will hold the secrets of world-class innovation for the next century. Qteros’ microbial approach to the
production of cellulosic ethanol has the potential to revolutionize the production of clean energy for the country.”
Congress has mandated production of 36 billion gallons a year of biofuels — 16 billion gallons of which must be advanced cellulosic biofuels such as Qteros is working to produce. That would figure prominently in President-elect Obama’s plan to reduce or eliminate America’s dependence on foreign fossil fuels by investing $150 billion in clean energy technology over 10 years. Qteros is poised to be a key contributor to realizing that goal.
Dr. Susan Leschine, Qteros’ Chief Scientist and co-founder, is the University of Massachusetts, Amherst microbiology professor who, nearly 10 years ago, first collected a sample of the Q MicrobeTM near the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts. She sees the company’s success as the
realization of her dream of finding a “super-bug” that can leapfrog the conventional enzyme technologies in terms of cost/benefit, and help solve the world’s energy crisis.
“In the past year, we’ve made great strides in understanding the inner workings of Q, basic knowledge that is enabling the advancement of this technology and from which Qteros is discovering ever-more productive strains of this amazing microbe,” Dr. Leschine said.
Led by Dr. Sarad Parekh, Vice President of R&D, the Qteros lab team has already achieved an over 15-fold increase in productivity with its C3 (Complete Cellulosic Conversion) technology platform for using the Q Microbe to convert cellulosic plant material to ethanol.
“Over the last year, the SunEthanol team has demonstrated that the patented Q Microbe™ and the ‘C3′ process is the industry’s most advanced cellulosic ethanol technology platform,” said Jason
Matlof, partner at Battery Ventures. “This infusion of capital and the addition of world-class strategic partners will further enable the team to achieve our goal of commercializing a sustainable and cost-effective cellulosic biofuels platform.”
According to Founder and Executive Vice President Jef Sharp, “This investment in Qteros during difficult financial times is a reminder that new technologies will be the generators of the clean tech future. Qteros’ success will help to ignite the next economic expansion while helping to solve climate change and sustainable energy challenges.”
“Biofuels are the only near-term alternative to gasoline for liquid transportation fuels,” added Frey. “With our company’s new financing from this group of experienced partners, we will be able to realize the full potential of the Q MicrobeTM to convert cellulosic feedstocks into ethanol, and to help move America towards energy independence.”
About Qteros (formerly SunEthanol)
Qteros is a venture-backed company committed to delivering innovative process technologies for clean transportation fuels that reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a price competitive with gasoline. Qteros is scaling up a unique microbial solution for converting non-food plants and waste into clean transportation energy. The Qteros scientists and business team are dedicated to producing liquid fuels to achieve a sustainable solution to the world’s growing energy needs. Effective Nov. 18 its website may be found at www.qteros.com.
Venrock is a premier venture capital firm with offices in Palo Alto, New York, Cambridge, MA, and Israel. Originally established as the venture capital arm of the Rockefeller family, Venrock continues a seven-decade
tradition of partnering with entrepreneurs to establish successful, enduring companies. Having invested $2.2 billion in 417 companies resulting in 124 IPOs over the past 39 years, Venrock’s investment returns place it
among the top tier venture capital firms that have achieved consistently superior performance. With a primary focus on technology, healthcare, and energy, portfolio companies have included Adify, Adnexus Therapeutics, Apple Computer, Centocor, Check Point Software, DoubleClick, Gilead Sciences, Idec Pharmaceuticals, Illumina, Intel, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Sirna Therapeutics, StrataCom, and Vontu. For
more information, please visit Venrock’s website at www.venrock.com.
About Battery Ventures
Since 1983, Battery has been investing in technology and innovation worldwide. The firm partners with entrepreneurs and management teams across technology sectors, geographies and stages of a company’s life,
from start-up and expansion financing, to growth equity and buyouts. Battery has supported many breakthrough companies around the world, including: Akamai Technologies (NASDAQ: AKAM), BladeLogic
(acquired by BMC Software), Cbeyond (NASDAQ: CBEY), Insitu (acquired by Boeing), LIFFE (acquired by EuroNext), and Neoteris (acquired by Netscreen). Its current portfolio includes emerging leaders in Clean
Tech and Advanced Materials such as: Freshpoint, Lion Cells, Luminus Devices, Nova Analytics, SmartSpark Energy Systems and SunEthanol. From offices in Boston, Silicon Valley, and Israel, Battery manages more than $3 billion in committed capital, including its current fund of $750 million. For more information on the firm and its clean tech portfolio, visit www.battery.com.
About Soros Fund Management LLC
Soros Fund Management LLC is a private investment advisory firm that serves as the principal investment advisor to the Quantum Group of Funds.
BP is of one of the world’s largest energy companies, providing its customers with fuel for transportation, energy for heat and light, retail services and petrochemicals products for everyday items. It is the largest oil and gas producer in the U.S. and one of the largest refiners. BP also has a global network of around 25,000 service stations. BP is a leading player in the global biofuels market. In the US, BP blended and distributed
763 million US gallons of ethanol and about 1 million US gallons of biodiesel during 2007. In Europe, BP sold 344 million liters of ethanol and 847 million liters of biodiesel during 2007. BP’s sales of biofuels in 2007
accounted for about 10% of the global biofuels market.
About Long River Ventures
Long River Ventures (LRV), based in the Amherst, Mass. area, is an early stage venture capital firm that invests in promising IT, healthcare, and cleantech companies throughout New England with a special focus on
opportunities found in the technology centers outside of the Boston area. The LRV partners have invested in 30 companies over the past 10 years, including: Optasite, based in Westborough, MA (acquired by SBA
Communications); M2S, based in W. Lebanon, NH (acquired by AIG); and Profile Systems, based in Springfield, MA (acquired by Comergent Technologies). Please visit the website at www.longriverventures.com.
About Camros Capital
Camros Capital LLC is an early stage investment company based in Boston, Massachusetts. Camros Capital promotes the development of new and innovative technologies having the potential for commercial growth.
Aside from financial investments, Camros Capital also helps our portfolio companies succeed by providing broad expertise in technologies and experience growing successful start-up companies. Camros Capital, L.L.C., was founded by Parviz Tayebati in February of 2007 with a mission to identify innovative technologies at an early stage and to assist in taking these technologies into the market place.