Life Sciences Firms Grab VC Dollars, ViaSat-1 Ready for Launch, EarthRisk Offers 40-Day Forecasts, & More San Diego BizTech News

7/25/11Follow @bvbigelow

While venture capital activity remained relatively constant in year-over-year funding for San Diego companies, most of the capital went to local life sciences companies. It was a big week for VC news, and our briefing begins now.

—A regional breakout of venture activity from the MoneyTree Report shows that 29 startups in San Diego received a total of $198.2 million during the second quarter that ended June 30. That’s an 8 percent decline from the $215.7 million that VCs sunk into 30 deals during the same quarter last year, according to MoneyTree data. Life sciences deals accounted for 97 percent of the total in the recent quarter. The biggest information technology deal was nearly $1.6 million for Verve Wireless.

—A rival survey of venture activity from Dow Jones VentureSource found that VCs invested $152.2 million in 17 deals in San Diego during the second quarter. That’s a 4.4 percent increase in capital and slight decline in deals since the same quarter last year, when Dow Jones counted $145.8 million in 18 deals. The two surveys are not comparable because they use different sources and different methods of counting deals.

The Backplane, a Web-based startup backed by the mistress of pop Lady Gaga, was listed among the San Diego companies that got $1 million in venture funding during the three months that ended June 30, according to a breakout of venture activity from the MoneyTree Report. The Backplane has operations in San Diego and Palo Alto, CA, according to Davis Corley, director of operations at Tomorrow Ventures, which also invested in the startup.

—Lisa Bicker resigned as CEO of CleanTech San Diego, the non-profit industry group that has worked for two years to stimulate innovation in renewable energy and clean and green technologies, as well as sustainable business practices. Jim Waring, a co-founder and chairman of CleanTech San Diego, is her successor as CEO, effective Aug. 1.

A comprehensive report on San Diego’s innovation economy during the first three months of this year counted 70 new startups—double the 35 new companies formed during the same quarter in 2010. The Connect Innovation Report also showed that venture capital investments in San Diego have continued to decline over the past three years.

—Carlsbad, CA-based ViaSat (NASDAQ: VSAT) said its ViaSat-1 satellite, designed to provide high-capacity Internet service, is ready for flight, following an extensive independent review of its solar array design. The expected July launch of ViaSat’s Ka-band satellite was delayed after a solar array onboard the Telstar 14R communications satellite failed to fully deploy following its launch in May. The Telstar satellite and ViaSat-1 were both built by Space Systems/Loral and use many of the same solar array elements. ViaSat-1 is now set for a September launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

—San Diego-based Ormet Circuits has raised more than $1.7 million from investors to build out its proprietary technology for printing circuit patterns on plastic, paper, and other materials. The ink is cured to become a fused metal network that alloys itself to conventional circuit materials, and has high electrical conductivity.

EarthRisk Technologies, a San Diego company developing software analytics and visualization technologies, said its new HeatRisk program can be used to forecast heat waves and other extreme weather events up to 40 days before they occur. Targeting utilities, energy companies, and other customers, EarthRisk says its technology offers a way to drastically reduce the costs of summer energy resource planning.

—San Diego-based Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), the world’s biggest maker of wireless chipsets, appointed Kanwalinder Singh to head business development in new markets for Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT). The company said Singh will focus on growing Qualcomm’s chipset business in smart energy, smart automobile, and other machine-to-machine (M2M) markets.

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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