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 costs." "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: www.rockportcap.com . 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: www.nthpower.com. 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 www.practical-instruments.com .
SOURCE Practical Instruments