Seattle Roundup: Carena Funding, Avalara Acquisition, Alaska Biofuel

So far this year, three venture capital firms based in the Seattle area that invest heavily in Northwest startup companies have raised $520 million in new funding. Madrona Venture Group, with its $300 million sixth fund announced Thursday, is the biggest among them.

Here are a few other stories we’re following this week:

—Private cloud services company Blue Box was acquired by IBM. Big Blue plans to build on Seattle-based Blue Box and its team as part of a broader cloud strategy.

—The Technology Alliance is out with its latest report on the Washington state innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. Take a look at its findings, as well as numbers from the Kauffman Index of startup activity for Washington.

—Seattle-based Carena, which provides software, services, and expertise to help health systems set up virtual clinics and telemedicine services, has raised $13.3 million. Investors include Cambia Health Solutions and McKesson Ventures, as well as prior backers Catholic Health Initiatives and Martin Ventures. In February, we took a look at UW Medicine’s new virtual clinic, powered and staffed initially by Carena. Carena says UW Medicine is one of six new customers it has gained in 2015, and that it is on track to double revenue this year.

Avalara, the sales and excise tax compliance software provider, continues its buying spree. This time, the Bainbridge Island, WA-based company is scooping up EZtax, which focuses on the telecommunications industry. Avalara filled its coffers with a $100 million infusion from private equity firm Warburg Pincus last November, in part to finance acquisitions. It now has more than 800 employees.

—Alaska Airlines plans to fly a demonstration flight in 2016 powered in part by an experimental jet fuel made of tree limbs and branches. The Seattle-based airline is partnering with the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance, an effort led by Washington State University to unite two iconic Washington industries: forestry and aviation. The NARA is working on technologies and business models to use so-called forest residuals as a feedstock for alternative jet fuels.

Meanwhile, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is preparing new limits on airplane greenhouse gas emissions, the New York Times reported this week.

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

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