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NM tech firm raises $4.5M in private equity

UbiQD’s red-light-emitting UbiGro film installed in a greenhouse.
(Courtesy of UbiQD Inc.)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

UbiQD Inc. raised $4.5 million in fresh private equity this month to help the company boost sales of its first product and advance new technology development.

New York-based Scout Ventures and California-based Keiretsu Forum led this latest round of investment with participation by at least four other venture firms, including Santa Fe-based Sun Mountain Capital, which manages the State Investment Council’s private equity commitments to local startups.

The total collective investment was actually $7 million, but that includes $2.5 million in “convertible notes” previously awarded by investors and now converted from debt to equity in the new round. With the $4.5 million in “new money,” UbiQD has now raised a total of $11 million in private equity and grant funding since launching in 2014, said founder and CEO Hunter McDaniel.

“It took us awhile to gain enough traction to garner significant interest from venture investors,” McDaniel told the Journal. “That includes proving our technology, launching a first product that fits a market need, and generating initial revenue.”

The company developed a low-cost, nontoxic process for making quantum dots, which are tiny, three-dimensional structures that manipulate light in unique ways, absorbing and emitting it back out in different colors. They’re used in everything from transistors and sunscreen to LCD televisions, tablets and smart phones.

UbiQD is applying the technology in new ways, beginning with production of a novel window film for green houses that accelerates plant growth and increases crop yields by bending sunshine to emit red light, which plants crave for optimal growth. It’s now selling that product, called UbiGro, while developing new versions that emit other colors for specific plant applications.

It’s also developing a quantum dot-based window coating that captures sunlight and then channels the photons to photovoltaic cells on window frames, potentially turning everyday windows into solar generators. And it’s working on an “anti-counterfeiting” application to imbed quantum dots into documents to make them harder to reproduce.

“We can make optical features for documents like passports or driver’s licenses that’s very hard to copy,” McDaniel said.

UbiQD’s new funding will be divided into three equal spending buckets, including one-third to boost UbiGro marketing and sales, another third to advance new technology applications, and the final tranche to upgrade UbiQD’s headquarters in Los Alamos, McDaniel said.

Investors said UbiQD has significant potential.

“They are bringing nanotechnology to high-impact industries and enabling innovative products to help our world in meaningful ways,” Keiretsu Forum Mid-Atlantic co-founder Howard Liberty said in a statement.

Scout Ventures managing partner Brad Harrison said UbiQD could potentially “transform some of the largest industries on the planet and produce significant profits while doing so.”

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