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15 July 2008


ArcelorMittal launches VC fund with $20m investment in Miasolé

Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, one of the world’s major steelmakers and materials/mining companies, has launched a new venture capital fund to support the commercialization of clean energy technologies (particularly those relevant to the steel industry and its customers) with an initial investment of $20m in Miasolé of Santa Clara, CA, USA. Miasolé is developing thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaic cells using a proprietary multisource sputtering process for roll-to-roll manufacturing on stainless-steel foil.

The new VC fund is managed by a team from ArcelorMittal Flat Carbon Americas (FCA) and its investment decisions are taken by a six-person investment committee chaired by ArcelorMittal FCA’s CEO Lou Schorsch. ArcelorMittal will be working with leading venture capital firms including Bessemer Venture Partners, Khosla Ventures, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Miasolé is already backed by Bessemer Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Vantage Point Venture Partners. By the beginning of 2007, Miasole had raised more than $58m in venture capital and said it would begin commercial production of CIGS PV cells last year (which would have made it the first to do so).

But by spring 2007, the cells coming off the initial production line had conversion efficiencies of just 4-6% (below the firm’s 8-10% target). The firm also had to lay off staff, while former CEO David Pearce left the firm last fall (replaced by semiconductor industry veteran Joseph Laia).

However, last July the firm raised a further $50m in fourth-round venture capital financing, while efficiency has since improved to 9-10%. CEO Laia now reckons starting commercial shipments in 2009.

See related items:

IBM and Tokyo Ohka Kogyo to co-develop CIGS PVs

Thin-film solar market to reach 9GW in 2012

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