Seattle Roundup: Tidal Turbine, IDRI, Tango Card, Codementor, TAGS

4/4/14Follow @bromano

This week’s roundup includes a green-light from federal regulators for a Snohomish County PUD tidal turbine project in Puget Sound; more tuberculosis research funding for IDRI from the Gates Foundation; $3.3 million for Tango Card; $600,000 for Techstars Seattle company Codementor; a productive first year of investing for TiE Angels Group Seattle; and funding for Blue Box Group. Read on for details:

—The world’s first large-scale, grid-connected tidal energy turbines can be built in the waters of Puget Sound thanks to a federal license granted to the Snohomish County Public Utility District. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave the go-ahead (85-page PDF) for the Admiralty Inlet project, which would see tidal turbines capable of generating up to 600 kilowatts of electricity installed on the seabed in 200 feet of water west of Whidbey Island, WA. The utility says contracting, construction, and deployment of the turbines—to be manufactured by Ireland’s OpenHydro—will progress over the next two years. The turbines would be in place for three to five years to evaluate their commercial potential and environmental impacts through close monitoring of noise, sediment movement, and fish and marine mammals, among other things.

—Seattle-based IDRI (Infectious Disease Research Institute) has received an additional $3.4 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for work on tuberculosis drug discovery. The grant, to IDRI vice president of drug discovery Tanya Parish, adds to $4.4 million awarded in 2010. The new funding will support, among other things, evaluation of promising compounds that have emerged from the “several hundred thousand” screened in partnership with pharmaceutical giants Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) and Abbvie (NYSE: ABBV).

—Tango Card, which handles employee and customer gifts and loyalty award programs for companies, has raised $3.3 million from 14 investors, according to an SEC filing. The funding comes a year after the company raised $5.4 million from investors including Allegro Venture Partners, Floodgate, Swan and Legend Ventures. As GeekWire reports, existing investors were back for this round, which brings the total funding for Tango to $9.7 million.

—2013 Techstars Seattle company Codementor has raised $600,000 from angel investors including Techstars founder David Cohen, Will Ballard, and the founders of OLX and Funzio. Codementor is building a marketplace and technology to enable instant one-on-one software development help. The system allows a developer seeking help to browse through more than 600 experts, who set their own rates and charge in quarter-hour increments. Codementor takes 20 percent of the fee. The company was founded by Weiting Liu, who sold a company called @SocialPicks that went through Y Combinator in 2007, and previously co-founded Mr. 6, which he describes as the “Buddy Media of Taiwan.” Codementor has five employees. The funding will help with product development and marketing. “It is also more than just the funding—we’re thrilled to be working with investors who’ve had hands-on experiences building successful marketplaces before,” he says in an e-mail.

TiE Angels Group Seattle (TAGS) members invested $1.9 million in six companies since the group began about a year ago. Another $2 million in capital for the companies came from co-investing partners of TAGS. The group has more than 85 members. TAGS has backed Minetta Brook, Exponential Entertainment, Unify Square, Versium, BYNDL, and Resolution Tube.

—Columbia Pacific Advisors is making an undisclosed investment in Blue Box Group in support of the Seattle company’s private cloud computing offering. The company raised $4.3 million in late 2012 from Voyager Capital and other investors, and according to an SEC filing, raised $1.5 million in an apparent convertible debt issue last October. Seattle-based Columbia Pacific says its Growth Capital group is planning up to $100 million in “minimally dilutive” investments in expansion stage companies over the next three to five years.

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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