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7 Eco Lighting Startups to Watch

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Big players in the lighting market have snapped up startups in recent years at a breakneck pace. Cree (s CREE) acquired LED Lighting Fixtures in March. Lighting Science Group bought Lamina Lighting’s assets in July. Philips (s PHG) spent $5.4 billion on startups between 2005 and 2007 and acquired four LED companies: Lumileds, TIR Systems, Color Kinetics and Genlyte. We’ve rounded up some of the brightest startups working on lowering the cost of LEDs, developing energy-management software, and devising ultra-efficient lighting technology — and raising millions from investors while they’re at it — to see where they’re headed.

SuperBulbs: With investment from VantagePoint Venture Partners, this stealth startup is working on LED bulbs that look like conventional incandescents and use 30 percent less energy than compact fluorescent light bulbs. While SuperBulbs has named the standard 4″x2″ A19 bulb as its first product, it plans to develop a family of bulbs for the $12 billion replacement market.

Oree: Israel-based Oree added $4 million in venture loans last month to $7 million raised in its Series A round of equity financing. In the two years since its founding, the company has secured funding from Silicon Valley Bank, Kreos Capital, Genesis Partners and Gimv for development of flexible, credit-card-sized LEDs for office or retail spaces and LCD displays.

HID Laboratories: American River Ventures, Big Sky Ventures, Greenhouse Capital Partners and the CalCEF Angel Fund have invested in HID Labs, which is working on a demand-response platform to control and dim high-intensity-discharge lighting, often used for large areas (think stadiums, warehouses, big-box retail stores). The company says its digital ballast can boost efficiency by 40 percent over existing magnetic-ballast options.

Adura: Funded by VantagePoint Venture Partners and Claremont Creek Ventures, Adura has developed a wireless lighting management system already in use at UC Berkeley and the Alameda County Water District headquarters. The company’s software combines timers with motion and ambient light sensors to automatically turn off unused lights, delivering savings of 40 to 70 percent.

Vu1: Vu1, which announced the close of a $5 million round of financing last week, is working on a technology that accelerates electrons toward phosphor-coated glass to produce light in a standard bulb casing. The company says it’s aiming for efficiency on par with today’s compact fluorescent light bulbs. Reflector bulbs — floodlights often used for recessed kitchen lighting — are first in line for production.

Bridgelux: One of the older kids on the block, six-year-old Bridgelux raised a Series D round of $40 million in April, bringing its total financing to more than $70 million. The company makes LED chips (the light-emitting part of light emitting diodes), mostly for electronics and vehicles. Bridgelux’s other claim to fame: Patent litigation from Cree.

Luxim: Luxim works with solid-state plasma for studio and stage lighting, producing high-intensity light with 50 percent less energy than conventional HID options. Sequoia Capital joined the $21 million round of financing the company announced earlier this year.

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