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Bill Gates and Vinod Khosla among investors in US cleantech firm



Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla are part of a group of investors who have collectively pledged $8m towards the second round of financing of a US cleantech firm.

Varentec, based in San Jose, works to provide “smarter power delivery” to the electricity grid. The US Department of Energy-backed firm closed its series B funding drive this week.

The $8m funds, which add to the $7.7m from an initial financing round, will help the firm set the ball rolling on its energy monitoring and analytics software to utility companies.

Varentec’s intelligent, decentralised controllers operate at the edge of the network and, coupled with our software analytics, provide the ‘eyes, brain and muscle’ to uniquely enable real-time management of the power network”, said Deepak Divan, co-founder, president and chief technology officer at Varentec.

With multiple successful pilots at investor owned utilities and co-ops, Varentec is now poised for production rollouts of our Edge of Network Grid Optimisation solutions.

This series B funding, with the backing of investors like Bill Gates and Vinod Khosla, not only validates our unique approach, but enables us to solve present grid challenges such as energy conservation, grid optimisation, and grid integration of rooftop PV. It will also allow us to commercialise our cutting edge technology into transformative power delivery solutions data centers and industrial applications.”

Gates, who has pledged billions of dollars to charity through his and his wife Melissa’s philanthropic foundation, is a long-time backer of clean technology. In April, he joined a number of investors in collectively financing energy storage firm Aquion Energy with $35m.

Khosla, meanwhile, is a prolific cleantech investor through his venture capital firm Khosla Ventures. In 2009, the New York Times reported that the organisation had raised over $1 billion in two funds that went on to invest in areas such as energy, bioplastics, solar and wind.

Varentec becomes the latest cleantech firm to benefit from the two men’s interest in a fast-developing market that is an increasingly attractive area for sustainability-minded investors.

Further reading:

Bill Gates joins investors in renewable energy storage firm

Global cleantech industry worth $170bn after growing 18% in 12 months

Philanthropists urged to take more risks and ‘talk about failure’

UK tech companies to explore green manufacturing in China

IFC backs cleantech start-ups through sustainable financing