RockPort Capital Partners and Nth Power Lead $8M Series A Round for Practical Instruments

New Concentrating Solar Panels Bring Platform for Unparalleled Power to the


Oct 16, 2006, 01:00 ET from Practical Instruments

    PASADENA, Calif., Oct. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Practical Instruments, a
 provider of high-performance concentrating solar panels, today announced it
 has closed a $8M Series A funding round, led by solar investment veterans
 RockPort Capital Partners and Nth Power, two of the leading venture capital
 firms in clean tech. The Series A also includes investments from Trinity
 Ventures, a leading early-stage venture investor with more than $1 billion
 under management, and Rincon Venture Partners, a southern California-based
 venture firm with strong ties to commercial real estate and large
 multi-property owners and retail chains. The investment will fund the
 production of Practical Instruments' flagship product, Heliotube(TM), for
 the solar integrator, installer, and project developer channels.
     "This is a company that has taken a systems-level approach, rapidly
 delivering a solution that reduces total system cost while delivering on
 market needs for high efficiency and familiar installation. Practical
 Instruments offers all of that in a very capital-efficient business model,"
 said Chuck McDermott, general partner, RockPort Capital Partners. "The
 ability of the team, led by CEO and former NASA chief architect Brad Hines,
 to also package all that in an industry-standard form, speaks volumes about
 their near- and long-term market potential."
     A mature technology traditionally used in central station ground-based
 solar power implementations, Concentrating Photovoltaics (CPV) is
 experiencing a rebirth. With significant new innovations enabling CPV for
 the rooftop, Heliotube sidesteps the inherent problems associated with
 pole-mounted and central-tower CPV technologies by integrating its low
 profile tracking technology into the standard flat panel form factor that
 solar installers have been using for decades. By accommodating the large,
 established channel with an industry-standard panel, Practical Instruments'
 technology dramatically reduces installation time, materials, and costs,
 while using 88 percent less photovoltaic material. The company has eight
 patents pending.
     "Despite the advances in solar over the past few years, it's rare to
 find a team that is looking at the solution holistically," said Tim
 Woodward, managing director, Nth Power. "The unique experience of the team
 at Practical Instruments in bringing together optics, materials,
 electronics, precision tracking, cooling, and software into cohesive
 systems has led to a solution that reduces both module and installation
     "After more than 14 years designing and implementing NASA-grade
 opto-mechanical systems, my team and I decided to focus our efforts on a
 solar solution designed with the key market demands in mind," said Brad
 Hines, CEO and CTO of Practical Instruments. "With Heliotube, we've
 engineered a product that reduces installation and materials costs, while
 supporting our mantra: reduce the cost, not the power."
     About RockPort Capital Partners
     RockPort Capital Partners is a venture capital firm based in Boston, MA
 that invests in companies in the energy, environmental, and advanced
 materials sectors. The firm is committed to companies with breakthrough
 technologies that deliver significant economic value to large potential
 markets. With the closing of RockPort Capital Partners II in January 2006,
 RockPort has now raised over $380 million for venture investments. For more
 information, visit: .
     About Nth Power
     Nth Power focuses on high-growth investment opportunities in the
 trillion- dollar global energy and utility marketplace. Nth Power began
 investing in 1997 and has over $250 million under management, with
 investments in energy intelligence, power reliability, distributed
 generation, and related services. Nth Power's industry partners include
 leading electric and gas service providers and equipment manufacturers from
 around the world. More information:
     About Trinity Ventures
     Trinity Ventures, a 20-year veteran in the venture business with more
 than $1 billion under management, partners with exceptional entrepreneurs
 to build great companies. Trinity Ventures focuses on early-stage
 technology investment opportunities with a particular emphasis on the
 Digital Media, Internet Services, Mobility, Security and Software markets.
 Trinity has invested in well over 100 ventures, including such leading
 companies as Blue Nile, Crescendo Communications, Extreme Networks, Forte
 Software, Illustra, LoopNet, Speedera Networks, Starbucks and Sygate.
     About Rincon Venture Partners
     Rincon Venture Partners aligns itself with extraordinary entrepreneurs
 and supports them as they build world-class businesses. Based in Santa
 Barbara, it targets California's Central Coast and the Greater Los Angeles
 area. Rincon is an early-stage investor, typically following an angel round
 as a company's first institutional investor. The partners focus on the
 software and technology-enabled services sectors (for both businesses and
 consumers), but are excited to talk to entrepreneurs about other compelling
 opportunities within the technology landscape as well. Rincon initially
 invests $500,000 to $1.5 million, and expects to invest an average of $3-4
 million over the life of a portfolio company.
     About Practical Instruments
     Practical Instruments' next-generation solar panels dramatically reduce
 the cost of solar power on commercial rooftops, and anywhere else that
 solar panels are traditionally deployed. Our product platform, the
 Heliotube(TM) concentrating solar panel, addresses the strong market need
 for lower-cost, higher-power solutions for rooftop solar power. Heliotube
 uniquely integrates a complete, self-powered, tracking solar concentrator
 system into the form factor of conventional flat solar panels. Heliotube is
 a "plug-compatible" alternative to standard solar panels, exactly
 conforming to the existing standards and practices of the large,
 established channels of solar installers, integrators, project managers,
 dealers, and distributors. Practical Instruments, backed by some of the
 most experienced and successful venture investors in clean tech and energy,
 was founded in 2005 and is located in Pasadena, California. Please visit us
 at .

SOURCE Practical Instruments