GE Energy Financial Services (GE EFS) announced today it is leading a $22 million investment round in energy efficient building maker Project Frog, its latest venture capital investment of several this year in “cleantech” companies. GE was in the top ten of cleantech investors in 2010, according to industry analyst Cleantech Group. To date, GE has teamed with partners to invest $134 million in winners of the Ecomagination Challenge, GE’s open competition to find and fund the best ideas to improve our energy future.
Project Frog takes prefab modular construction and makes it energy-efficient, delivering building kits that take one to six months to construct and use at least 25% less energy than the strictest building codes in the United States (in some places, as much as 80% less). The company’s LEED-certified building designs are optimized for the fabrication process; structural steel is cut by computer-controlled lasers, and both fabrication and construction are engineered to produce minimal waste.
The Project Frog financing follows another big investment in July, when GE EFS joined existing investors to complete a $10 million investment round for Nuventix, which has developed a novel method for moving air to cool LED lights. Instead of a fan, the start-up’s design uses an oscillating membrane, called a SynJet®, which creates turbulence that draws air past the light and across a heat sink. The innovative cooling system allows energy-efficient LED systems to shine brighter, last longer, and cost less.
Earlier in the summer, Energy Technology Ventures – a GE, NRG Energy and ConocoPhillips joint venture – provided capital to Emefcy Ltd, a company that employs microbial fuel cells (MFC) to yield electricity or hydrogen from wastewater treatment. That’s right, poop power.
With its scale and resources, GE provides more than just funding to nascent cleantech companies. It offers technical know-how and cutting edge R&D, business expertise, and worldwide reach, in addition to top-tier due diligence and ongoing financial support. And, at least in Project Frog’s case, GE is also a customer: one of its modular buildings will be constructed on the grounds of GE’s Crotonville Learning Center.