Former First Solar CEO Michael Ahearn officially launched his $300 million greentech fund, dubbed True North Venture Partners, on Monday. Word has been out about the venture since earlier this year when the team revealed in a filing that it had closed on $192 million of the fund.
The firm says in a release Monday that it will focus mostly on early stage companies, with investments ranging from $100,000 to $25 million, and will look for startups across the energy, water, agriculture and waste industries. While Ahearn is still Chairman of First Solar, and was CEO until 2009, the thin-film solar panel giant isn’t involved in the new fund.
But it would make sense for Ahearn to use his knowledge of solar to fund innovative solar startups. Solar power attracted $1.83 billion in VC investment in 2010, not as high as 2008’s record solar year, but higher than in 2009. While much of that investment actually went into First Solar thin-film competitors, solar software and services, and technology to track and manage solar power’s integration with the grid has been picking up as well.
Ahearn was formerly partner and president of an equity investment firm called JWMA (formerly called True North Partners, LLC), which he started with John T. Walton, one of the children of Walmart founder Sam Walton, back in 1996. JWMA Partners is one of the largest holders of First Solar stock, and Walmart invested $25 million in First Solar in 2008 and is also a customer.
So potential greentech entrepreneurs, True North Venture Partners is officially open for business and ready to listen to your pitch. The firm says it will finish staffing up its operations by the end of 2011.