Sun Catalytix Gets $1M More from Polaris, Exclusive License to Solar Fuel Tech from MIT

11/23/09

Polaris Venture Partners has pumped an additional $1 million in seed capital into Cambridge, MA-based solar fuel startup Sun Catalytix, bringing its total investment in the MIT spinout to $3 million, Polaris general partner and company director Bob Metcalfe tells Xconomy.

The startup, which we first covered in April, has also gained an exclusive license to patents based on discoveries made by company founder and chemist Daniel Nocera at MIT. Nocera has invented a catalyst that mimics photosynthesis to turn water and an energy source such as sunlight into renewable fuel. Sun Catalytix is at work to increase the scale at which the technology can produce fuel, Metcalfe said. The U.S. Department of Energy is also supporting the firm’s research, awarding it a $4.1 million grant through its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy program this fall.

Sun Catalytix, which garnered its first seed investment from Polaris last year, is among a growing number of companies and research groups that aim to harness the abundant energy from of the sun in the form of fuel. Cambridge, MA-based Joule Biotechnologies, formed and backed by Flagship Ventures in 2007, and Maynard, MA-based Nanoptek are part of this pack as well. It’s not been proven that any of these technologies can work at a scale and cost that is competitive with crude oil, but the promise of these technologies has motivated venture investors and the government to reach deep into their pockets to make them commercially viable.

“We’re still seed-stage,” Metcalfe says of Sun Catalytix, “which means the future is … Next Page »

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