Capricorn Venture Partners hits half-way milestone for cleantech fund

The Belgian venture firm is blazing a trail in Europe with a dedicated clean technology fund as investment in the market surges globally to more than $1 billion in the first six months of the year.

Belgian venture capital firm Capricorn Venture Partners has signed up LRM, the regional investment company for the municipality of Limburg in Belgium, as an investor in its Capricorn cleantech fund.

The latest commitment of €10 million from LRM has taken the fund to its half-way milestone of €50 million.

Other investors in the Fund include Electrabel, a member of French conglomerate the Suez Group; MRBB, the holding company of the Belgian farmers’ union Boerenbond; PMV, a holding company of the Flemish government and several pension funds and entrepreneurs/investors.

Capricorn hopes to hold a final closing of the fund, with a target of €75 million to €100 million, by the end of 2007.

The fund invests in European growth companies developing breakthrough technologies in renewable energy, water purification, clean air and soils, greenhouse gas reduction, biobased chemicals and biorefineries.

Global venture capital investments in clean technology companies surged to $1.1 billion in the first six months of 2007 alone, according to mid-year research by Ernst & Young and Dow Jones VentureOne. Propelled by activity in the US, 2007 venture capital investments in clean technology companies are now on track to increase by more than 35 percent compared with 2006.

Clean technology embraces a diverse range of products, services and processes that harness renewable materials and energy sources. It reduces and optimises the use of natural resources, cuts or eliminates pollution and toxic wastes and adds economic value by significantly lowering cost and improving profitability.

Over the past months, Capricorn has already made its first investments in SBAE Industries, a micro-algae processor for nutritional supplements, and fluXXion, a Dutch early stage company, produces and sells micro-filtration products.

The firm has also hired Steven Levecke to join its investment team as investment associate after four years at accountants PwC.