Braemar's Suslak: Commercial opportunity abounds in cleaning traditional energy

The Deal, Tech Confidential
By Mary Kathleen Flynn

October 5, 2007

“We're putting more capital to work earlier on and throughout the life of a company,” says managing director Neil Suslak about Braemar Energy Ventures' second fund, announced Thursday.

The new $250 million fund, dubbed Braemar Energy Ventures II LP, is more than quadruple the size of the venture capital firm's first fund, which was $56 million and closed in 2003. Suslak says the new fund will make investments of $5 million to $20 million, compared with $1 million to $5 million in Braemar's previous fund.

As with Braemar's first fund, the new one will focus on early-stage energy companies. That includes alternative energy specialists and companies developing technology to make traditional energy more efficient and cleaner.

“The alternative energy business is growing very fast, but will still be a small part of the energy business even 20 years from now,” Suslak explains. “There are many opportunities in more traditional resources, making them cleaner or less costly.”

Although Suslak declines to provide any details, he says the new fund has already made its first investment in a clean coal company.

Prior to founding Braemar Energy Ventures, along with fellow principals William Lese and George Reichenbach, Suslak worked in the investment banking business at S.G. Warburg and Co. and Swiss Bank Corp. The new fund also brings aboard Dennis Costello as principal. Costello was a partner at Advent International Corp., the venture firm at which Reichenbach was also previously a partner.

Recent investments by Braemar's original fund include leading a $1.2 million Series A round in July in Cerion Energy, which is developing technology for cleaner diesel emissions, and in June participating in a $15 million Series B in solar cell developer Stion Corp. For more on Braemar's investments, see the VCDeal database.