23 February 2010


Luminus raises $19m more in venture funding

Luminus Devices Inc of Billerica, MA, USA, which makes LED solid-state light sources for illumination applications (including high-definition TVs, video projectors, avionics displays, and lighting systems), has closed a $19m round of funding, led by current investors Argonaut Private Equity, Braemar Energy Ventures, Paladin Capital Group and Stata Venture Partners.

The latest funding is a recapitalization for Luminus, which has raised $172m since being spun out of MIT in 2002. In early January, the terms of a $15.1m loan were renegotiated while bridge funding was raised. This followed settling of a lawsuit against lender Hercules Technology Growth Capital Inc of Palo Alto, CA, which had blocked Luminus from accessing $12m in accounts (claiming it had defaulted on the loan).

Luminus says that the new investment creates a fully funded operating plan to increase profitability, maintain minimal debt, and support growth and the expansion of Luminus’ products and applications. This includes ‘big chip’ LEDs in specialty lighting applications, projection displays, digital signage and ultraviolet industrial processes.

“Luminus' investor syndicate is one of the strongest groups of venture-backed talent in the clean energy technology space,” reckons president & CEO Keith T.S. Ward. “With their experience investing in solid-state lighting companies, their support facilitates our leadership team’s implementation of a strong growth strategy across a diverse portfolio of global markets, products and applications,” he adds. “This financing has dramatically improved our balance sheet, simplified our equity structure, while better aligning investor objectives with management's market-focused strategy.”

Designed to provide an ultra-bright, reliable light source, Luminus’ PhlatLight ( Photonic Lattice) LEDs are used by some of the world's largest firms, including Acer, LG, Philips Vari*Lite, Sony, Samsung and Toshiba. Luminus’ display business is thriving, as PhlatLights are now in every projection platform technology, including DLP, 3LCD and LCOS. The firm says that its technology enables products that use LEDs in all projector categories, including pico, pocket and data, as well as home theater.

“We continue to be bullish on energy efficiency, especially in the area of LEDs and solid-state lighting, which makes up a large portion of our portfolio,” says Braemar Energy Ventures’ managing partner Dennis Costello. “With our expertise in the area and Luminus’ dominance as a LED manufacturer and supplier across multiple market segments, it provides a great investment opportunity,” he believes. “We’re pleased to see more and more lighting applications are using PhlatLight LEDs,” he adds. Paladin Capital Group principal Dr Paul Conley notes the rapid adoption of PhlatLight LED products in a diverse range of commercial, industrial and defense applications.

“This funding will allow Luminus to fully execute its operating plan to achieve profitable growth,” says Stata Venture Partners’ managing partner Lee Barbieri. “PhlatLight LEDs uniquely enable new technologies in a broad spectrum of applications,” he adds. “Their management team is highly focused on supporting their existing customers and enabling new markets.”  

“In December we had the largest month in our history and in January we had a larger month,” Ward notes in an interview in Mass High Tech (The Journal of New England Technology). “In February we are going to beat our projection by 20–25%,” he adds. Luminus hence expects its revenue this year to more than double from nearly $10m in 2009 (which itself was double 2008's revenue).

See related items:

Luminus in full production with warm-white PhlatLight LEDs

Luminus settles lawsuit with lender Hercules, but lays off 30 staff

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