Energy Vault, the creator of renewable energy storage products that are transforming the world’s approach to long duration, utility-scale energy storage, has completed a $110 million Series B funding round. The investment for the round was made by SoftBank Vision Fund in its first investment in energy storage technology. Energy Vault will use the funds to accelerate global deployment of its technology, which – for the first time – enables renewables to deliver baseload power for less than the cost of fossil fuels 24 hours a day. Energy Vault has experienced significant growth since its launch in November 2018. In addition to the previously announced agreement with The Tata Power Company Limited, India’s largest integrated power company, Energy Vault will be demonstrating the first 35MWh storage tower in the north of Italy in 2019. “Energy Vault solves a long-standing and complex problem of how to store renewable energy at scale,” said Akshay Naheta, managing partner for SoftBank Investment Advisers. “The company’s integration of proven technologies with 21st century material science and machine vision software provides a solution that reshapes the unit economics of renewable energy while being restorative to the environment. Energy Vault is highly complementary to SoftBank’s existing energy portfolio and we are pleased to further the company’s global development.”

Flyhomes Announces $141 Million in Financing

Flyhomes, the Seattle-based startup reinventing the home buying process, is announcing $141 million in new financing, $21 million of which is Series B equity financing led by Canvas Ventures. The funding will be used to fuel the growth of products designed to make the home buying process as painless as possible. Flyhomes is also announcing the launch of its latest product, the Trade Up program. The Trade Up program, now available to homebuyers in Seattle and San Francisco, frees current homeowners to shop for their next home without worries about contingencies or timing. Flyhomes provides a guaranteed, competitive price for the home a buyer currently owns, thereby eliminating the risk and uncertainty of having two mortgages. Flyhomes lists homes to get the maximum value for the customer, while providing a 100 percent guarantee that the home will sell within 90 days, or they will buy it. “For most people, a home is the single biggest purchase they’ll ever make, and the traditional process of making that purchase is fraught with obstacles, stress, and worry. We believe our approach—which supports homebuyers with a vertically integrated product offering—is the future of real estate,” said Flyhomes CEO and co-founder Tushar Garg. “Because we do everything from touring homes to funding their purchase, we have greatly simplified the process for buyers. We are thrilled to partner with Canvas Ventures and a16z on this investment, which represents a significant vote of confidence in our mission and ambitious goals for the future,” the Indian American executive added.

Better.com Closes Series C at $160 Million

Better.com, one of the fastest-growing homeownership platforms in the country, closed its Series C fundraising round at $160 million, bringing the company’s total funding to $254 million to date. The new investment round comes amid a period of tremendous growth for the fin-tech disruptor: Better.com has grown three times year-over-year and is currently funding $375 million in mortgages a month. This puts the company on track to lend over $4 billion in 2019. Better.com also funded $1 billion of loans in Q2 of this year alone, more than in all of 2016 and 2017 combined. Better.com was created in 2016 after its founder, Vishal Garg, lost a home to an all-cash buyer due to a slow and antiquated traditional mortgage process. His wife was pregnant with their second child at the time. He used the money he had saved for the down payment to start Better.com, which has digitized the entire mortgage process to eliminate commissions, fees, unnecessary steps, and time-wasting branch appointments. The startup’s commission-free business model also allows borrowers to save more than $3,000 on average in up-front costs, or over $700 a year in interest payments on a typical $300,000 conforming loan mortgage. “Similar to how Amazon upended the retail industry, Better.com is digitally disrupting the $15 trillion mortgage industry through best-in-class technology, a commission-free business model and first-rate customer support,” said Garg. “The capital we’ve raised will enable us to accelerate our investment in product development, grow our strategic partnerships, expand our team and scale our platform to continue making it easier for borrowers to get home financing.” To continue its growth, the fin-tech disruptor anticipates hiring an additional 400 people in sales and technology by the end of 2019.

Syzygy Raises $5.8 Million in Funding

Syzygy Plasmonics, a technology company developing the world’s highest performance photocatalyst, has raised $5.8 million in Series A funding. The financing was co-led by The Engine and by The GOOSE Society of Texas. Syzygy is advancing a new photocatalytic chemical reactor powered by light from renewable electricity instead of heat from burning fuel. Syzygy’s photocatalytic reactor holds promise to revolutionize the industrial gas, chemical, and energy industries by significantly reducing the cost and carbon emissions in the production process for a wide range of major chemicals such as fuel, fertilizer, and plastic. Based upon two decades of breakthrough research from world-renowned professors Naomi Halas and Peter Nordlander at Rice University, the photocatalysts are orders of magnitude more active, stable, and efficient than previous photocatalysts. “Based on breakthroughs in plasmonic science by professors Halas and Nordlander, we now have an opportunity to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of the chemical and energy industries,” said Suman Khatiwada, CTO and co-founder of Syzygy. The investment comes on the heels of other significant developments for Syzygy. Earlier this year, Syzygy received grants from the Department of Energy for the development of a reactor to create hydrogen from ammonia and from the National Science Foundation SBIR Program for the development of a reactor that processes carbon dioxide.

By GIOVANNI ALBANESE Jr., India-West Staff Reporter

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