New US$300m VC fund for green-tech start-ups

19 Jul 2011

Former First Solar CEO Michael Ahearn has this week launched a new US$300m venture capital firm that will invest in early stage companies in the energy, water, agriculture and waste sectors.

True North Venture Partners is being led by Ahearn, who is more famous for having been the co-founder of First Solar, now one of the world’s leading manufacturers of thin film solar panels. He served as CEO of First Solar from 2000 before stepping down in 2009, but has remained on as chairman.

According to a statement released by True North Venture Partners, investment amounts for clean-tech start-ups will range from US$100,000 to US$25m.

It says it will invest in early stage companies with “disruptive innovations that can reshape socially important industries, such as energy, water, agriculture and waste”.

The company will have offices in Chicago and in Phoenix.

“We are focused on sectors where the global problems are pressing, the need for disruptive innovation is great and the challenges faced by early stage entrepreneurs and investors are particularly daunting,” said Ahearn in the statement. “Our goal is to identify exceptionally talented entrepreneurs with the vision, drive and business potential to significantly improve the world and help them realise their ambitions.”

He said that True North is putting together a team of partners and advisers who can combine successful investment experience with track records in “developing start-up businesses into significant enterprises”.

“We can help entrepreneurs navigate the obstacles that they will inevitably face in fundamentally transforming global industries.”

Photo: Michael Ahearn, co-founder and former CEO of First Solar, who has launched a new venture capital firm to invest in early stage clean-tech start-ups. Photo courtesy of Ahearn is on the board of directors of Endeavor Global, which helps progress high-impact entrepreneurship globally

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic