Infinite Power Raises $20M, Brings In Al Gore’s Firm

A startup developing next-generation thin film batteries, which can be made into moldable shapes, has closed a sizable round of funding and brought in Al Gore’s investment firm. Infinite Power Solutions, which we reported was looking to raise $20 million last month, says this morning it has closed that $20 million Series C round, and brought in new investors Generation Investment Management (Gore’s firm), and including return investors D. E. Shaw Ventures, Polaris Venture Partners (Bob Metcalfe’s firm), Core Capital Partners, and Applied Ventures, the VC arm of Applied Materials.

Littleton, Colo.-based Infinite Power says it will use the funds to build out manufacturing capacity, grow its sale,s and conduct more R&D for its batteries, which have the power of standard lithium-ion cells, but can be developed into flat, tiny and other non-traditional shapes for the gadget, sensor, and medical devices markets.

Price has long been the problem with thin film batteries. Manufacturers have to get the cost of the batteries low enough to be able to compete with coin-cell batteries, the circular batteries often used in watches, according to a recent report from research firm Frost & Sullivan.

But Infinite Power, founded in 2001, says it has already built out its first factory in Littleton to produce its thin film batteries — dubbed the Micro-Energy Cell (MEC) — and has been selling its batteries to developers of wireless sensor, RFID tags, medical devices, automotive and military products. The company licenses its technology from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Partnership deals will clearly be the key to success for Infinite Power. On that note, the company has signed an agreement to supply its batteries for products that Lockheed Martin (s lmt) is developing for military and civil applications, and has also signed a deal with Arrow Electronics (s arw).

Infinite Power isn’t the only thin film battery startup, and competitors include Planar Energy and Cymbet Corp. But Infinite says its ultra-thin rechargeable batteries deliver higher power than its competitors’ and also last longer, have longer shelf lives, and can be recharged more times. The company has said its batteries can be recharged more than 60,000 times and made as thin as 15 microns.

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