Virgin Green Fund gains traction with CalPERS investment

Virgin Green Fund, the first green investment fund set up by U.K.-based Virgin Group, has raised $199 million from two large pension funds — CalPERS, Wolverhampton City Council — and other institutional investors to reach its first close, reports the Financial Times. CalPERS made its investment through PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund. Macquarie Bank’s Clean Technology Fund is another prominent investor.

Aspen Aerogels raises $37M for nano-insulation materials

Aspen Aerogels, a Northborough, Mass.-based company that uses nanotech-processes to make insulation materials, has wrapped up a $37 million fourth round of funding. The round was led by Arcapita Ventures and joined by existing investors Lehman Brothers Venture Partners Reservoir Capital Group and RockPort Capital Partners.

Energy Recovery files IPO for desalination

Energy Recovery, a San Leandro, Calif.-based firm which develops water desalination devices, has filed plans to list its shares on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “ERII.” The company expects its 14 million shares — 8.1 million of which will be offered by the firm itself, with the remaining 5.9 million to be sold by a stockholder group — to fetch between $7 and $9 apiece.

Semantic search startup TextDigger unearths a business model, and some venture funding

TextDigger, a semantic search startup that launched early last year at DEMO, has been much quieter in the interim than other companies in the space like Hakia, Powerset and Radar Networks / Twine. But now the company has come back to light, at least for us — a filing document reveals that the company has finally landed venture funding, raising $3.8 million so far.

Roundup: Flickr founders leave Yahoo, ex-Citi CFO raising $3B for cleantech, Microsoft buys Navic, and more

Flickr founders join exodus from Yahoo — Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield, the founders of photo-sharing app Flickr, a $35 million Yahoo acquisition, have added their names to the lengthening list of Yahoo defections. Kara Swisher speculates that a boardroom brawl is underway at the embattled search company. No word on where Fake and Butterfield will head next, although with any luck it’ll be another startup.

OneSpot launches news crawler widget for media sites

OneSpot, a news aggregator reminiscent of Blogrunner, Sphere and other media widgets that pull in news from around the web, is launching today with two high-profile pilot clients, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Each of which will run a widget containing story headlines provided by OneSpot’s algorithm.

IBM adds thin-film process to burgeoning cleantech business

Big Blue has been on a cleantech tear of late. Starting with a touchy-feely virtual world it released for Earth Day in April, the company has made a succession of announcements: A technology for cooling concentrating solar arrays, a new line of modular, energy-efficient data-centers, and the latest, its entrance into the thin-film solar cell market.

The algae (claims) just keep getting better

It’s time to give algae their due. While hundreds of startups have been grappling with the problem of how to squeeze fuel out of corn, grass, wood, trash and nearly anything else you can think of, quiet little algae have progressed to the point where they may well save the world alone.

ECO2 Plastics raises $6.5 million to recycle plastic

ECO2 Plastics, a San Francisco-based recycling firm, has just raised $6.5 million in new funding from Trident Capital and a group of small investors led by Thompson Hutton. The company sells a product analogous to recycled plastic, which is used for a variety of industry applications, that it says is produced in a more efficient, environmentally-conscious way.