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Cooledge’s $18.4 mln funding may signal tipping point for LED market

Vancouver-based Cooledge Lighting, a developer of LED technology, has raised US$18.4 million in a Series B financing, peHUB Canada has learned.

The round was led by a new investor, a Canadian alternative assets firm with more than $2 billion under management, said Kirk Washington, a general partner at Yaletown Venture Partners, which also participated in the deal. Washington did not disclose the investor’s identity.

Other investors included ARCH Venture Partners, which together with Yaletown has backed Cooledge since its’ founding in 2009, as well as BDC Capital, Export Development Canada and GE Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of General Electric.

Cooledge last raised a disclosed round of $7.1 million that was led by BDC Capital in 2012.

One of 2014’s largest Canadian cleantech financings, Cooledge’s Series B may also signal that the global LED lighting market “has reached a tipping point” and is poised to “overtake conventional lighting systems,” Washington told peHUB Canada.

Kirk Washington“LED lighting appears to moving to mass adoption,” he said, citing a recent report by McKinsey & Co that estimates revenue generated by LED lighting products is expanding 30 per annum and will by 2020 represent almost 60 percent of the worldwide lighting industry.

Washington believes Cooledge will be a leader of this market transformation. Over the past five years, it has focused on delivering new lighting solutions, including its platform innovation, Light Sheet, a flexible, paper-thin light engine that can be integrated into diverse lighting fixtures and architectural designs. Light Sheet is targeted for general illumination applications and seeks to replace fluorescent bulbs in lighting broad spaces, such as workplaces, retail stores and shopping malls.

Led by CEO C. Wade Sheen, Cooledge’s platform was officially launched in 2013. It has won several awards, including the Design Excellence Award at the 2013 LIGHTFAIR trade show. In the same year, the company forged a strategic partnership with GE Lighting to develop a customized power-supply driver as a key component of Light Sheet.

Cooledge has since gone from “early revenue traction to top-line growth,” Washington said. He gives a lot of the credit to Sheen, formerly a VP and general manager for LED Products at AmberWave Systems: “Wade is the ideal bridge between the technology and the marketplace.”

The newly closed funding is intended to give Cooledge fresh impetus in its sales and marketing in North America and Europe. The company’s European campaign will operate from its office in Munich, Germany, which opened last March. Funds will also be applied to platform development and product line growth.

Cooledge is Yaletown’s 18th deal so far this year, according to Thomson Reuters’ data. Yaletown was ranked Canada’s most active VC firm in the latest market report of the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA).

This story also appeared in affiliate magazine Venture Capital Journal, which is published by Buyouts Insider. Subscribers can read the full story by clicking here. To subscribe to VCJ, click here for the Marketplace.

Photo of evolution in lighting courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo of Kirk Washington courtesy of Yaletown Venture Partners