Cleantech Emerging as Third Big Sector for VC Investing, Ultraviolet Sciences Seeks a Foothold in the Water Biz, Four Startups Get ‘Under-the-Radar’ Funding, & More San Diego BizTech News

5/3/10Follow @bvbigelow

It was a week for news about high-tech job trends, venture deals, and a rising tide of cleantech venture funding. Get our summary here:

Cleantech startups are now getting close to capturing as much venture capital as the two biggest industry categories—life sciences and information technology. By one official estimate, VCs invested $1.9 billion in 186 cleantech deals in the U.S. last year. By another estimate, VCs put $3 billion into 223 cleantech startups in 2009. As Ira Ehrenpreis of Palo Alto, CA-based Technology Partners put it, “cleantech is emerging as the third leg of venture capital.”

—By improving on technology that uses ultraviolet light to purify water, San Diego’s Ultraviolet Sciences now has attracted 25 customers, including Dean Kamen’s Deka Research & Development of Manchester, N.H. The startup says it’s water purification technology is 75 percent smaller, 50 percent cheaper, and costs 90 percent less to operate than existing systems, but the company is trying to gain a foothold in a market dominated by conglomerates like General Electric and Siemens.

Tracon Pharmaceuticals, BeamOne, Novocell, and Digital Healthcare Systems all secured financing of less than $1 million in March, according to a list of “under the radar” deals that Erin prepared. All four companies are focused in healthcare.

Connect, the San Diego nonprofit group that promotes technology and innovation, has named lawyer Timothy Tardibono as its first lobbyist in Washington, D.C. Tardibono told me he’s already focused on two issues: the potential effects of pending financial reform legislation on angel investors as well as efforts to reform patent law and the U.S. patent office.

San Diego’s ProQuo ceased operating last August, but its PayPal billing service lives on—at least for Encinitas, CA, resident Judd Handler. He was charged by PayPal to renew a junk-mail screening service that ProQuo once offered. Former ProQuo CEO Bob Nascenzi told me, “I don’t know where that money would have gone because ProQuo doesn’t exist any more.” PayPal did not return calls seeking further information about how often PayPal imposes fees on behalf of defunct companies.

As the recession deepened in 2009, the high-tech industry lost 245,600 jobs, or about 4 percent of the nationwide technology workforce, according to a report by the TechAmerica Foundation. High-tech unemployment was highest in electronic components and semiconductor manufacturing.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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