Avalon Ventures Goes for Ninth Fund, Mobile Health Industry Seeks Tipping Point, Google Ventures Steps Into Spotlight, & More San Diego BizTech News

5/10/10Follow @bvbigelow

New industries like cleantech and mobile health are changing the face of San Diego’s innovation scene. Better catch up on all that’s happening before you don’t recognize it anymore.

—The wind power industry is now in the doldrums, after soaring last year to a record number of wind turbine installations. The industry’s boom and bust cycles are so jarring that the American Wind Energy Association is calling on Congress to enact policies to bring more stability to the market. The latest lull in new orders has prompted the Knight & Carver Wind Group of National City, CA, to lay off a third of its workforce at a wind turbine blade manufacturing plant near Sioux Falls, S.D.

—San Diego’s Avalon Ventures, which has embarked on raising between $150 million and $200 million for its ninth venture fund, gets a lot of attention for its investments in life sciences startups. But Avalon invests about half of its funds in Web and wireless deals like E-Band Communications, Cloudkick, and Nabbr.

Google Ventures stepped out of the shadows to talk with reporters about the corporate venture fund and its investing strategy. In San Diego, Google Ventures has sunk money into V-Vehicle and OpenCandy. In a Q&A transcript, Bill Maris, the fund’s managing partner, said the fund’s goal is to invest roughly $100 million in startups each year.

—San Diego’s Envision Solar International, which specializes in architectural and project planning of renewable energy projects, began trading on the over-the-counter bulletin board market. The company’s shares trade under the symbol EVSI.

The mobile health industry will meet in La Jolla tomorrow for the 5th Annual Wireless-Life Sciences Alliance Convergence Summit. While a survey by TripleTree, a Minnesota banking firm, shows the industry is still emerging; the WLSA itself became a full-time, member-supported trade group earlier this year.

—Some of the proceeds from a $53 million deal the J. Craig Venter Institute did in Maryland could help the research institute move ahead with its plans for a laboratory on the UC San Diego campus. The Venter Institute sold its five-building campus in Rockville, MD, and then leased it back.

Larry Smarr, who heads the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at UC San Diego was among the featured speakers at a health IT conference that OVP Venture Partners hosted at its headquarters in Kirkland, WA. Smarr said biologists, physicians, and computer scientists rarely pool their brainpower in productive ways to tackle problems as hard as health IT.

—At a time when the Pentagon is pushing unmanned aircraft makers to develop a new generation of relatively inexpensive unmanned aerial vehicles, a startup near Seattle called LaserMotive has outlined a way to use a laser to beam power to unmanned aircraft. That way, they won’t have to land to refuel.

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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