Taxpayer-backed ReVolt Technology to file bankruptcy

Battery technology firm ReVolt, formerly led by James McDougall, is reportedly filing for bankruptcy.

Taxpayer-backed ReVolt Technology, a battery technology company, plans to file bankruptcy.

The Portland-based company has been unable to raise new capital or find a buyer, so made the decision to close, according to a statement on the website of Viking Venture, one of its investors.

"ReVolt Technology has been a work and capital intensive venture since Viking Venture established the company together with SINTEF in 2004," said Viking Venture Managing Partner Erik Hagen, in the statement. "The potential of the technology has been considered huge and the company has attracted considerable capital from international investors as well as public grants. However, it is time to acknowledge that the company could not attract new capital in order to continue the development."

Company officials could not immediately be reached, but sources familiar with the company said ReVolt plans to make a Chapter 7 filing, which means it will be liquidated, not restructured.

Trondheim, Norway-based SINTEF is Scandinavia’s largest independent research organization.

ReVolt was developing a zinc-air battery technology that it said could deliver twice the energy of conventional rechargeable battery technologies, such as lithium-ion.

The company's taxpayer incentives included a $5 million federal stimulus grant in 2010. It also received state and local incentives, including $3.8 million in state loans and $1.1 million loan from the Portland Development Commission.

ReVolt CEO James McDougal served for most of the year as president of the board of directors for Drive Oregon, the state funded organization to support the electric vehicle industry, but stepped down a few weeks ago, according to Jeff Allen, Drive Oregon's executive director.

"It's not a total surprise," Allen said of the bankruptcy news. "Anytime you have a startup like that it's high-risk and high-reward and it's a risk that something like this will happen." Allen added that new battery technology is especially tricky to bring to market in a timely fashion. The risk associated with battery technology was front and center earlier this week with the bankruptcy of a much larger battery firm, A123 Systems of Waltham, Mass.

ReVolt quietly moved its headquarters to Portland from Switzerland last year.

ReVolt was once considered a Portland success story.

The Portland Development Commission pointed to ReVolt last year in touting the agency’s economic successes. A February 2011 PDC release touting wins by then- newly hired Executive Director Patrick Quinton noted that he played a critical role in ReVolt’s recruitment.

The company occupied a 20,940-square-foot facility near Portland International Airport. It employed 18, according to a story in the Business Journal last year.

Drive Oregon's Allen said McDougal was always willing to talk about the company's reason's for choosing to base its operations in Portland.

It also had operations in Germany and China.

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