Boston-Power, Inc., a provider of lithium-ion battery cells, modules and systems (earlier post), announced $125 million in new funding from a combination of private equity investment and support from China. The growth capital and Chinese government incentives will be used predominantly to scale manufacturing, research and development, and business development activities in China for the company’s energy storage technology and products.
The private equity round was led by GSR Ventures, a venture capital firm with more than $1 billion under management that invests primarily in early stage and growth stage technology companies with substantial operations in China. GSR Ventures has offices in Beijing and Silicon Valley.
Additionally, through its stimulus programs and local industrial policies, the Chinese government is providing a range of grants, low-interest loans and related financial and tax incentives. Existing Boston-Power investors Oak Investment Partners and Foundation Asset Management (FAM) also participated in the round.
As part of its plans, Boston-Power is establishing an R&D and EV battery engineering facility in China. This organization will build upon the current generation of Boston-Power’s lithium-ion battery technology to develop new energy storage products and solutions.
The company also will build an advanced manufacturing facility in China that will be capable of producing 400 megawatt hours (MWh) of lithium-ion battery cells annually by the end of 2012.
Reorganizing. The company says that this substantial infusion of capital and incentives will help drive Boston-Power’s solutions more deeply into China. Due to the strategy to focus predominantly on China in both the immediate and longer term, the company is reallocating its global resources. This includes transitioning a number of positions and responsibilities from its Westborough, Massachusetts offices.
Details are still being finalized; however, the team in Westborough will maintain responsibility for intellectual property development, research and development, global customer support, sales and business development and partnerships with advanced research organizations in the Boston area.
As part of its investment in Boston-Power, GSR Ventures Managing Director Sonny Wu will serve as chairman of the board of directors. Wu co-founded GSR Ventures in 2004, following a series of senior-level positions with Nortel Networks, Shanghai ASMC, Shanghai Nortel Semiconductors Corporation and Guangdong Nortel Telecom Corporation. He was raised in China and completed his education in engineering physics at the University of British Columbia, the University of California at Berkeley and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as a Sloan Fellow.
Along with Founder and International Chairman Dr. Christina Lampe-Önnerud, Boston-Power’s board includes Bandel Carano, managing partner, and Allan C.Y. Kwan, venture partner, Oak Investment Partners; Richard Nilsson, senior analyst, Foundation Asset Management; and Robert C. Purcell, Jr., CEO, Protean Electric and a 32-year auto industry veteran responsible for the development and production of the GM EV-1.
Last week at the Frankfurt show, Boston-Power, Protean Electric and BRABUS unveiled a battery electric and a hybrid version of two vehicles based on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. (Earlier post.)
Boston-Power’s battery technology platform is based on a flat, oval-shaped prismatic cell design with external dimensions equivalent to two conventional 18650 lithium-ion cells. Boston-Power currently uses cobalt and manganese on the cathode with graphite on the anode. Each cell incorporates multiple, independent safety devices located in different areas of the cell. The design of each safety component is optimized independent of the other components, and the distributed location eliminates unwanted interactions between them.