Sugar-for-fuel company raises $10m in debt

Venture capital-backed Sweetwater Energy secured a bridge loan ahead of establishing the company's first commercial biomass-to-biochemical conversion facility.

Sweetwater Energy, a New York company that produces a sugar-based alternative to petroleum, has secured $10 million in debt financing from an undisclosed investor. The company will use the funds to start construction of its first commercial biomass-to-biochemical conversion facility.

Sweetwater’s process can use cellulosic, non-food biomass, such as crop residues, energy crops and woody biomass to create a highly fermentable sugar that can be used to create biofuel, biochemicals, bioplastics and other bio-based materials. The company uses renewable plant materials that are grown domestically rather than petroleum-based technologies.

The bridge loan is the latest round of funding for the company after it raised raised $9 million in Series A funding in 2012 followed by $7 million in Series B in late 2013. Cranberry Capital, a venture capital firm, invested in both rounds.

“We really like the fundamental technology it has,” Keith Wilson, managing partner at Cranberry Capital and board member of Sweetwater, told Agri Investor. “It has the applications across a number of things, we were very excited about the investment in Sweetwater at the time and we still are.”

Sweetwater’s initial $1.2 million seed funding round was raised predominantly from Arunas Chesonis and Jack Baron, the company’s chief executive and chief operation officer respectively, Agri Investor learned.

Sweetwater signed a deal with Massachusetts Institute of Technology in June 2013 when MIT agreed to use Sweetwater’s sugar solution in various applications, Agri Investor learned.