Energy Technology Ventures Invests in San Diego’s On-Ramp Wireless

7/10/12Follow @bvbigelow

Energy Technology Ventures—a joint fund established GE, NRG Energy, and ConocoPhillips—has agreed to participate in the Series C round of funding currently being raised by San Diego’s On-Ramp Wireless. Financial terms were not disclosed in a statement today.

On-Ramp CEO Joaquin Silva told me in March he was preparing to raise from $20 million to $30 million in the company’s third round of venture funding, which is intended to help fuel On-Ramp’s continuing expansion of its low-power, low data rate wireless networking technology. On-Ramp says its Ultra-Link Processing system can establish wireless, low-data networking connections with devices across long distances, even if the devices are underground or in other hard-to-reach places. Its competitors include Silver Spring Networks and SmartSynch, now part of Itron.

In a regulatory filing last month, the company disclosed that it had raised $10.1 million in the first close of a planned $30 million round of equity financing.

On-Ramp has said it intends to close on the rest of its Series C round by the end of the year. The company had previously raised $37 million, but has not disclosed many existing investors beyond Gemtek, a wireless semiconductor manufacturer in Japan. The company now identifies only two board members on its website, Don Telage of Boston’s Frontier Capital and former Texas Instruments executive Douglas Rasor, who heads Rasor Advisors in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Since it was founded four years ago, On-Ramp has benefited from some prestigious recognition. In 2011, the World Economic Forum of Geneva, Switzerland, included the wireless networking company on its list of 31 technology pioneers. The U.S. Department of Energy awarded On-Ramp a grant to advance its technical capabilities to include wireless monitoring of underground systems. The company has deployed the technology in projects with both San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Edison. And just over a year ago, On-Ramp was selected as one of 10 winners in the $200 million GE ecomagination Challenge, which was intended to demonstrate GE’s commitment to accelerate the global development of innovative smart grid and related energy technologies. The company also is participating in GE’s $20 million ecomagination Accelerator program, an offshoot of the ecomagination program.

Silva has told me the company has identified lots of opportunities in wireless monitoring of far-flung industrial facilities. In today’s statement, On-Ramp’s Silva says, “Energy Technology Ventures’ investment will not only assist in the continued development and implementation of our patented wireless technology, but it also recognizes the critical contribution these technologies can provide to transform utility and oil and gas operations.”

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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