News

Sleeping Bear Capital Acquires Fuel Cell Manufacturer Adaptive Energy

By January 30, 2019

January 30, 2019

  • Sleeping Bear Capital acquires the fuel cell manufacturing business unit of Ultra Electronics
  • The division, now called Adaptive Energy, is the world’s leading maker of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) for back-up and portable power applications. Its fuel cell systems are powered by globally available and energy dense propane, butane, and natural gas
  • This acquisition is the first by Sleeping Bear Capital, a new technology-focused private equity firm. Sleeping Bear will support Adaptive Energy’s impressive growth trajectory by leveraging its operational and financial resources

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN– Sleeping Bear Capital today announces that it has acquired the fuel cell business unit of Ultra Electronics (LON: ULE). Now operating as Adaptive Energy, LLC, it is the leading provider of solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) for backup and portable power.

Adaptive Energy was originally founded in 1999 and has long partnered with the Department of Defense and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop more than 16 patents and unique SOFC technology, which lets fuel cells be powered by something as accessible and affordable as backyard propane tanks.

“Adaptive Energy is an incredible opportunity to work with a business that hasn’t received as much attention as it deserves within a large corporation. The team is talented and breaking barriers in the SOFC space. I’m excited to work with them and continue to support existing customer needs, as well as expand the organizations we serve,” said Ranvir Gujral, Managing Partner of Sleeping Bear Capital.

Leading customers include Lockheed Martin, which uses the fuel cells to power unmanned aerial vehicles, such as drones, for the military, as well as RedHawk Energy Systems LLC, which uses the technology as backup power for rail crossings and infrastructure. Both customers have entered into long-term supply agreements with Adaptive Energy.

“Adaptive Energy has a unique solution that makes the critical work we do for militaries operating in challenging environments possible,” said Craig Johnston at Lockheed Martin. “We closely vet and identify strategic technology partners to help us deliver world class products and services to our customers, and we’re excited to continue our relationship with Adaptive Energy.”

“Adaptive Energy has a strong foundation of technology and customers,” said incoming CEO of Adaptive Energy, Michael Edison, previously Director of Development at DTE, where he was responsible for developing onsite energy projects for large commercial and industrial companies. “In Sleeping Bear Capital, we have found a partner with a technology growth mindset. The new company structure gives us the flexibility and resources to provide solutions to existing and new customers and markets and continue to manufacture fuel cells in Ann Arbor, Michigan.”

With this acquisition, Sleeping Bear Capital [sleepingbearcap.com] opens its doors as a new private equity firm, based in San Francisco, specializing in acquiring orphan business units and venture-backed technology and ecommerce companies. The firm is founded and managed by private equity investor and entrepreneur, Ranvir Gujral.

Based on Gujral’s personal experience as both an investor and operator, Sleeping Bear Capital is an alternative to traditional private equity firms that typically replace founders and employees and strip away what makes the company unique. The company will invest and acquire cash flow positive companies in the technology and ecommerce industries seeking an influx of investment to reinvigorate and grow their businesses.

“With first hand experience of what it takes to create and manage a business, I want to partner with founders and teams to reach their potential,” said Gujral. “When I sold my company to a private equity firm, within 60 days all of my employees were gone. It wasn’t the experience I wanted. I started Sleeping Bear Capital to give founders a better alternative and outcome for their companies, investors, employees and customers.”

Warner Norcross + Judd LLP acted as legal advisor to Sleeping Bear Capital.