Branson’s Virgin Green adds $17M

Virgin Green Fund, billionaire Richard Branson’s cleantech venture fund, added another $17 million from five investors to its inaugural fund, which now totals $217 million, according to a regulatory filing. In June, the firm had closed on $200 million from 14 investors.

The firm, which has offices in San Francisco and London, has raised the capital from limited partners Corvina Holdings Ltd., PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund, Wolverhampton City Council and Macquarie Clean Technology Fund, according to the filing. Last year, the firm launched with $100 million from the Virgin Group, which is the anchor investor in the fund.

Virgin Green Fund has not disclosed the target of the fund, but it is believed to be in excess of $400 million. The firm is raising funds on a rolling basis and a spokesperson says the firm will wrap up fund-raising in 2009.

Virgin Green, which focuses on energy and resource efficiency, is targeting growth stage companies in the United States and Europe with investments that range between $15 million and $20 million. The firm has invested in at least three companies, according to Thomson Reuters (publisher of PE Week). The firm’s investments include GreenRoad Technologies Inc., a Redwood City, Calif.-based developer of automotive driver safety technology. GreenRoad raised about $15 million earlier this year from Virgin Green Fund, Benchmark Capital and Balderton Capital.

The firm has also participated in investments for Houston-based oil recovery company DuraTherm Inc. and Englewood, Colo.-based biofuels producer Gevo Inc.

Virgin Green is run by Managing Partner Shai Weiss. Weiss previously was with cable operator ntl:Telewest (now known as Virgin Media). Prior to that, he set up the European office of Jerusalem Venture Partners. —Alexander Haislip