Greentech Startups Kick Off 2010 With Fund Raising Rush

If the first day back to work in 2010 is an indicator of how greentech investing will look this year, there’s a reason to be bullish. By Monday afternoon we saw three greentech startups file fund raising documents with the SEC, and on Tuesday another greentech startup plans to put out a fund-raising release (which we reported on last week).

Wind turbine maker Nordic Windpower, biofuel maker Solix Biofuels, and PC energy management firm Verdiem, all filed fund raising documents on Monday afternoon. Meanwhile smart thermostat maker EcoFactor plans to release its funding announcement tomorrow, and filed its fund raising documents last Wednesday. Together the four companies have raised close to $25 million and plan to raise collectively a total of over $50 million.
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Acoustic Algae? Solix & Los Alamos Lab Team Up

solixbiofuels1Solix Biofuels might not have a big oil backer like a number of its algae fuel competitors, but the Fort Collins, Colo.-based startup can now list Los Alamos National Laboratory as a partner. Solix said this week that it’s entered into a research and development agreement with the lab to use its acoustic technology to harvest algae for fuel.
Los Alamos’ acoustic-focusing technology generates ultrasonic fields that concentrate algal cells into a dense sludge and extract oil. Solix hopes that combining the concentration and extraction steps into one process will eliminate the need for centrifuges and solvents (traditional extraction methods) — and at the same time, significantly cut the cost of producing the biofuel.
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Algae Fuel Startup Solix Ups Funds to Start Production, Eyes Asia

solix-logoAlgenol Biofuels, with its just-announced plans to build an algae fuel demo plant in partnership with Dow Chemical (s DOW), isn’t the only startup taking the demise of a well-funded algae fuel company — GreenFuel Technologies — in stride.

Today 3-year-old Solix Biofuels, which has some similarities with GreenFuel (it uses closed photobioreactors to grow algae, then turns it into biofuels and feedstocks for the chemical industry), shows it, too, is bucking up in the downturn — adding another $1.3 million to its Series A financing round, and announcing plans to start a commercial-scale demonstration of its technology within two months (“late summer”) in southwestern Colorado.

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MetroPCS Grows As Economy Shrinks

metroPrepaid mobile phone provider MetroPCS (s PCS) today reported profits of $14.6 million for the fourth quarter on sales of $723.6 million. The carrier didn’t meet Wall Street earnings expectations after writing down more than $90 million in auction rate securities, but it has added a significant number of new subscribers thanks to its expansion into new markets and the economic turmoil driving folks to consider pre-paid phone plans.

MetroPCS added 519,519 new subscribers in the fourth quarter — its best quarter ever for subscriber additions. New subscribers during the last three months of the year comprised 37 percent of its 1.4 million net adds for the year. During the fourth quarter, 73 percent of new subscribers were from new markets. On an annual basis, 12 percent of Metro PCS growth came from its core markets and 83 percent from expansion markets.

It also plans to continue its growth into new markets (most recently launched were New York and Boston), although it said it would reduce capital expenditures for 2009 to $700-900 million, compared with spending of $1.2 billion last year.

The economy may be working its favor, but the two smaller U.S. carriers, T-Mobile and Sprint (s S) are ratcheting up the pressure with Sprint’s $50 unlimited data and talk plan through its Boost Mobile subsidiary and T-Mobile’s $50-a-month retention plan.

Andy Grove Wants 10 Million Plug-In Vehicles in 4 Years

Andy Grove, the former chairman of Intel turned plug-in vehicle advocate, challenged the attendees of the Plug-In 2008 conference on Tuesday to put 10 million plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on the roads in four years. Those plug-ins should be retrofitted from vehicles with poor mileage like SUVs, pickups and minivans, he said.

Grove called on the auto industry, Detroit giants and Silicon Valley startups to form an inter-industry task force to achieve this goal. He said the auto industry has much to learn from the Internet world and thinks that it is critical to foster the same atmosphere of collaborative competition that helped Internet development boom over the last 15 years.

For the full story, and a video of Grove’s presentation, head over to Earth2Tech.