Tuesday, March 9, 2010

WI Harper seals third LED deal in Taiwan

Energy efficient light-emitting diodes or LEDs for short are the new venture investment hotspot, judging from the swarm of businesses that are getting funded.
WI Harper just inked a deal with a Taiwanese firm that tests LED chips, Testar Electronics Corporation. It's the venture investor's third company in LEDs in Taiwan: SemiLEDs Corp. and NeoPac Lighting Group are the two other promising firms. I've met with the founders of both of these in Taipei. Trung Doan (in photo with Silicon Dragon author Rebecca Fannin), the founder of SemiLEDs, has several patents for producing LEDs at lower cost but still with reliability and quality. Jeffrey Chen, the founder of NeoPac, has patents for bright light with less power. See earlier blog post for more info, June 22, 2009.
As LEDs go mainstream, expect to start seeing them used in households. For example, Sonny Wu of GSR Ventures in Beijing just showed me an LED light bulb that one of his firm's five portfolio companies in this space is launching soon.
Currently, LEDs are most often used for street lights, and the backlights of personal computers and TVs. Projections by industry analyst iSuppli are that LED shipments will nearly triple from 63 billion this year to 166 billion by 2013.
The "sweet spot" for Testar, which was founded in 2007, is an outsourcing service to test LED chips.
WI Harper has recently closed a new investment fund, and has been inking several new deals in Greater China to fit its early stage tech focus, including a new wind blade manufacturer in the Mainland: Jiangsu Chuangzhou CTC Technical Fabrics, Co. The firm also made news recently by linking up with Kai-Fu Lee's Innvoation Works as a backer of the incubation lab founded by the former president of Google China.
In Hong Kong, I recently interviewed David Lam, managing director of WI Harper, to hear his views on the firm's investment strategy in cleantech. Lam, in case you didn't know, is now the president of Silicon Valley's Asia America Multi-Technology Association.
See Silicon Dragon Video.