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LED startup Bridgelux snags $25M from China

LED startup Bridgelux snags $25M from China

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Bridgelux, a California-based startup that has developed a low-cost LED light, has more than just millions of dollars from Chinese company Kaistar.

Bridgelux, the California-based startup that shattered the LED efficiency record with silicon tech last year, has snagged $25 million in funding from China's Kaistar Lighting Co. Bridgelux will use the funds to accelerate its research, development and production of LED chips and packaging technology for general illumination applications, the company said in a release today.

While the announcement was short on details, it appears Bridgelux will receive more than just money as part of the deal. The announcement says Kaistar will provide its "cost-competitive" manufacturing expertise as well. Meaning, Bridgelux, which operates a factory in Livermore, California, likely wants to crack the Chinese market. And for good reason. The Chinese government is known to provide subsidies to companies that locate factories there. Last year, China announced it would eliminate incandescent light bulbs over the next five years, a policy move that could have a dramatic effect on the global energy efficiency lighting market.

Kaistar isn't Bridgelux's only source of capital. The startup has raised more than $220 million since its founding in 2002. That total includes $60 million raised last August and $15 million last October to further research and help the company commercialize its gallium-nitride-on-silicon (or GaN-n-Si) LED chip technology by 2013. Venture capital firms and investors included VantagePoint Capital Partners, DCM, El Dorado Ventures, Novus Energy Partners, IFA, Chrysalix, Harris & Harris Group, Craton Equity Partners, Jebsen Asset Management and Passport Capital.

Bridgelux hopes to capture a big share of the solid-state lighting industry, which is projected to balloon to a $25 billion market by 2015. Bridgelux's path to market domination is rooted in its technology, which aims to make LEDs more cost-effective for consumers. Bridgelux uses gallium-nitirde as the semiconductor compound and is growing it on silicon substrate, which is cheaper than other more commonly used substrates such as sapphire.

Photo: Bridgelux

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Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure