The California Clean Energy Fund announced Thursday that its angel fund had invested in three companies and was nearly halfway to its overall fund-raising goal.

The Clean Energy Angel Fund closed a second round of funding, bringing it to a total of $9.3 million.

The fund also reported it had recently led investments in three companies – HID Laboratories Inc., Allopartis Biotechnologies and an unnamed solar-technology company.

Menlo Park Calif.-based HID, which is developing systems that can control and dim commercial lights to save energy, received two investments from the fund, which closed HID's seed round and led its Series A round.

The company has said it can cut up to 40 percent of the power consumption from some high-intensity discharge lights, bright lights that use capsules of gas instead of filaments and are often used in stadiums. (HID CEO Antonio Espinosa will speak at Greentech Innovations: End-to-End Electricity on Nov. 17 in New York.)

American River Ventures participated in the seed round, and Greenhouse Capital Partners and Big Sky Ventures participated in the Series A round.

San Francisco-based Allopartis is developing enzymes for use in cellulosic-biofuel production, co-founder Robert Blazej told the San Francisco Business Times in January. The Clean Energy Angel Fund led a Series A investment in the company. X/Seed Capital Management also invested in the round.

The mystery solar company is adapting semiconductor-manufacturing technology to make solar cells that it claims can convert more sunlight into electricity at a lower cost, according to the fund.

Fund managers told Greentech Media the company expects its technology will boost the efficiency of solar cells by 1 to 2 percentage points. The angel fund placed between $250,000 and $500,000 in each of its investments, they said, but did not disclose how much the companies raised in each of their rounds.

The California Clean Energy Fund, also known as CalCEF, was created in 2004 as part of Pacific Gas and Electric's bankruptcy settlement and has invested in startups including Tesla Motors, Imperium Renewables, Fat Spaniel Technologies, CoalTek, Synapsense and others (for more information, see CalCEF Invests in 10 Startups).

But its Clean Energy Angel Fund, launched in April, is aimed at earlier-stage companies looking for $500,000 to $5 million to get off the ground, Susan Preston, general partner for the fund, told Greentech Media in April (see Q&A: California's New Angel).

At that time, Preston said the increasingly large amounts of money venture-capital funds were raising for greentech investments were creating a funding gap for early stage companies. Larger funds were likely to seek out larger, later-stage deals, possibly leaving companies with good ideas but lower capital needs out in the cold, she said (see Filling Greentech's 'Early Stage Gap').

Since the fund's launch, the ongoing global financial crisis may have changed that equation. Venture capitalists have said the crisis could put a crimp in their fund-raising efforts (see VCs Predict Greentech Investment Slowdown and Funding Roundup: How Poor Do Investors Feel?).

Still, Preston, who was previously an entrepreneur in residence with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, said in a news release Thursday that the Clean Energy Angel Fund has "an eye on the longer-term investment horizon" amid the economic turmoil.

The fund hopes to raise up to $20 million to fund early stage green-technology companies. It raised $6.8 million in its first round in February and $2.5 million more recently, it reported Thursday.

Venture capitalists speaking at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum in Seattle on Tuesday said that angel investors could play an important role in filling funding needs that may arise because of the financial crisis, though they said it may force angel investors to be more cautious with their money as well.

"I'd say we have a love-hate relationship with angels," given that they can compete with venture-capital firms, said Raj Atluru, a managing director at Draper Fisher Jurvetson. But given that venture-capital firms only do about one angel-sized deal per year, angels are still needed to give good companies a chance to grow, he added.

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