Japan’s DoCoMo Acquires Stake in PacketVideo, Helix Wind Advances Business, General Atomics to Build Hybrid-Electric Prototype, & More San Diego BizTech News

Amid fresh signs of concern for venture capital in San Diego, we saw some local technology startups take big risks to push their business forward. Our wrap-up of the week’s innovation news begins now.

—The largest wireless communications provider in Japan, NTT DoCoMo, invested $45.5 million to acquire a 35 percent stake in PacketVideo, the last operating company remaining at San Diego’s NextWave Wireless (NASDAQ: WAVE). PacketVideo spokesman Neil Sharma told me the deal provides a key infusion of cash for NextWave, which intends to use the proceeds to pay down its debt and help fund its corporate restructuring.

The Tech Coast Angels’ Ralph Mayer and Mike Elconin added some interesting perspective to our ongoing discussion concerning the evaporation of San Diego-based venture capital. In an Xconomy Q&A, Elconin observed that he’s seeing VCs throughout Southern California migrating to the San Francisco Bay area. He also says VC activity was trending down in San Diego even before the current recession hit.

—OK, the financials at San Diego’s Helix Wind look, uh, unfavorable. But the startup wind turbine maker is advancing its business on several fronts. The company signed a joint development agreement to create a wind turbine for an oil field injection system. Helix is acquiring Venco Power, a German maker of eggbeater wind turbines. And the company has introduced a “smart grid” wind turbine monitoring system.

BakBone Software CEO Jim Johnson told me he’s continuing to look ahead for ways to broaden the company’s core business in data storage and recovery. The San Diego-based company made two acquisitions in May—but only after BakBone had emerged from a tunnel of accounting woes that lasted more than four years. BakBone shares trade on the Nasdaq bulletin board.

—A mid-year survey by Dow Jones Private Equity Analyst shows that fundraising by U.S. venture capital firms fell to its lowest level since 2003. The survey shows 51 venture firms have raised $5.1 billion nationwide during the first six months of 2009. That’s down by almost two-thirds from the first half of 2008, when 115 VC firms raised $13.6 billion.

—Under a contract awarded by the U.S. Navy last week, San Diego’s General Atomics will develop a prototype electric motor to be installed in a guided missile destroyer for use during low-speed operations. The Pentagon said the project to develop a hybrid-electric warship is intended to demonstrate significant fuel savings.

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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