NanoOpto closes financing as quarter shapes up to be good for nano funding

Click here to enlarge image

March 22, 2005 — NanoOpto Corp. announced closing its Series C funding this morning, the latest in a string of deals completed since January that will conspire to make 2005’s first quarter a very healthy one for nanotechnology funding.

The Somerset, N.J., developer of design methods and nanofabrication technology to make optical components, raised $12 million. New investor First Analysis, a private equity group in Chicago, led the round. Existing investors who participated included Morgenthaler Ventures, two Draper Fisher Jurvetson funds (DFJ Gotham Ventures and New England Ventures), Harris & Harris Group and U.S. Trust’s Excelsior Venture Partners III. The round brings the total raised to date by NanoOpto to $42.3 million.

“I think they’re looking for business models that work,” said Barry Weinbaum, NanoOpto president and chief executive, of venture capitalists as a whole. “Take the nano part out of it. We’ve been shipping products for several months now.”

Click here to enlarge image

Now, he says, the trick is to build up manufacturing capability to meet anticipated demand — hence the fund raising. The company has bulked up from about 20 employees a year ago to 30 today. It recently hired Bruce Nonnemaker as vice president of manufacturing and operations to lead its manufacturing expansion. Weinbaum said NanoOpto anticipates hiring a few more engineers and technicians to staff its fabrication facility at the company’s New Jersey headquarters.

Since the start of the year, a slew of other nanotech companies have announced raising significant venture rounds. In addition to NanoOpto’s announcement, the following companies are among those that have announcing closing on financing this year:

  • ApNano Materials Inc. of New York, N.Y., closed on $5 million.

  • Nano-Tex LLC of Emeryville, Calif., closed on $35 million.

  • Nantero Inc. of Woburn, Mass., closed on $15 million.

  • Starfire Systems Inc. of Malta, N.Y., closed on $500,000.

And that doesn’t include non-U.S. nanotech companies, like Oxonica (which announced closing on $4.9 million in February) or microtechnology companies working at the edge of nanotech.

Weinbaum and other experts say the funding suggests that nanotechnology companies are entering a next stage where they can be evaluated by metrics like revenues, manufacturing capacity and book-to-bill ratios.

“What you’re seeing is the companies that have advanced beyond the science project phase,” he said.


Easily post a comment below using your Linkedin, Twitter, Google or Facebook account. Comments won't automatically be posted to your social media accounts unless you select to share.