March 10, 2003 (London) -- Ariadne Capital Ltd, a London-based European venture capital group, today announced an investment into NanoMuscle, Inc., a privately-held company that makes nanotechnology-based motors to displace existing electromagnetic motors in the $12 billion worldwide market for small motors.
Ariadne Capital joins the $10 million investment round, led by AutoVision GmbH, the corporate venturing unit of Volkswagen AG. U.S-based Crossbow Ventures also joined the round. Europe’s largest carmaker Volkswagen reported sales of 5 million autos worth $94 billion in 2002.
NanoMuscle was founded by Scottish serial entrepreneur, Rod MacGregor whose previous three startups include Insignia Solutions, Inc. that’s listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange and IBS, which was sold to Novell, Inc. Henry Nash, an Executive-In-Residence (EIR) with Ariadne Capital, joins NanoMuscle as its Chief Technology Officer, relocating to California from London. Nash co-founded the three companies previously with MacGregor, including Insignia and IBS.
“By tracking serial European entrepreneurs, we find the best technologies and the best people to commercialize those technologies,” said Bundeep Singh Rangar, COO at Ariadne Capital, who met NanoMuscle’s CEO & founder MacGregor last year. “By aligning innovative entrepreneurs with strategic corporates, we can accelerate their growth and provide a leg up on their competition. In NanoMuscle’s case, investment by customers among global players in the toy and the automotive industries is a massive validation of its commercial prospects.”
Ariadne Capital was set up in December 2000 by First Tuesday founder Julie Meyer and Bundeep Singh Rangar, former MD of Technology Markets at Knight Securities, Inc.’s unit Quartz Capital. It counts two dozen of Europe’s leading entrepreneurs among its investors including Lionel Anthony, former Chairman of the British Venture Capital Association. Anthony previously founded Causeway Capital and started Cinven, Europe’s largest buyout firm. A non-executive director at Ariadne Capital, Anthony led the investment, its fourth to date, into NanoMuscle.
“On all levels, NanoMuscle looks to partner with influencers in the industry, and Ariadne Captial is one of the top venture firms in Europe,” said MacGregor. “Europe is known for its leadership in automotive design and manufacturing, so to work with Ariadne Capital, AutoVision and DaimlerChrysler Capital Services, we are aggressively working to penetrate the European automotive industry. Ariadne Capital has been instrumental in helping open some important doors for us. ”
Ariadne Capital has a partnership with Wolfsburg AG, a joint venture between VW and the city of Wolfsburg. It maintains an office in Wolfsburg, where VW’s headquarters are located.
Ariadne Capital approached VW to gauge its commercial appetite for NanoMuscle’s motors as it has widespread applications in the automobile industry. While most cars contain about 100 motors, some luxury cars contain as many as 250 motors used in instrument clusters, rear view mirrors, ventilation controls and comfort seating.
Earlier financiers in NanoMuscle include DaimlerChrysler Capital Services, the financial arm of the German-American automaker, Hong Kong-based Jetta Ltd, the world’s largest toy maker that produces toys for the likes of Mattel, Inc. and Denmark’s Lego Group, and venture firms Garage Technology Ventures, Band of Angels, The Keiretsu Angel Forum and Silicom Ventures.
NanoMuscle develops and manufactures silent, powerful, miniature motors for the automotive and toy industries. It applies a discovery known as shape-memory alloy (SMA). By heating a wire made of nickel titanium past a critical temperature, it contracts at a molecular level to pull in a linear direction -- something motors, with their rotary motion, can do only with the help of bulky crankshafts. In comparison to other actuators and solenoids on the market, NanoMuscle motors are lighter, use less power, and are completely silent.
The NanoMuscle motor’s applications are finding widespread adoption among toys and automotive components. Last month, NanoMuscle announced “Baby Bright Eyes,” a realistic doll manufactured by Hong Kong toymaker Playmates Holdings Ltd -- the first commercial product available to consumers using NanoMuscle’s technology. Playmates makes toys associated with brands such as Star Trek, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Simpsons.
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For further information, including interviews and photos, please contact:
Kate Opekar, Ariadne Capital
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7653 0325
1. About Ariadne Capital Ltd.
Founded in December 2000, Ariadne Capital is a European venture capital group, which invests in early stage private and advises later stage private and public companies undergoing significant growth or change. The sectors that it focuses on include Enabling Technologies, Life Services, Communications and Software. Information about its portfolio can be found at www.ariadnecapital.com
Ariadne Capital provides its portfolio companies, as well as its strategic partners, access to its network of industry executives and investors, hands-on management and Board level assistance to implement strategic, operational and financial plans. Ariadne Capital helps its companies access capital, secure executives, leverage innovation and generate sales.
2. About NanoMuscle, Inc.
Founded in 1998, NanoMuscle, Inc. is a privately held company that manufacturers components that displace small electric motors in high volume markets including the children's toy and automotive industries. The company has been financed by strategic partners around the globe including DaimlerChrysler Capital Services, the financial arm of the leading auto maker and Jetta Ltd., the world's largest manufacturer of children's toys. Additional capital has been provided by Silicom Ventures, Crossbow Ventures, Garage Technology Ventures, The Band of Angels and The Keiretsu Angel Forum. NanoMuscle motors are mass manufactured in state-of-the-art facilities by ASE Korea, a leader in semiconductor manufacturing services. For more information please see
http://www.NanoMuscle.com NanoMuscle® is a registered trademark of NanoMuscle, Inc.
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