DHS Funds Chemical Sensors for Cell Phones, MaxLinear Files for IPO, EcoDog Wins GadgetFest, & More San Diego BizTech News

It was a busy week for local technology news.

—Two teams from San Diego and a third from Northern California demonstrated their development of advanced chemical sensor prototypes that are tiny enough to be found inside ordinary cell phones. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is funding the Cell-All program, with a goal of basically creating an anti-terrorism app for cell phones that would enable authorities to crowd-source chemical detection.

MaxLinear has filed for its initial public stock offering. The Carlsbad, CA-based fabless chipmaker, which specializes in designing semiconductor-based television receivers, intends to raise about $100 million through its IPO. The market may be de-frosting a bit, with 47 IPOs so far in 2009, compared with 45 last year, and 272 in 2007.

ProQuo, a San Diego-based Web 2.0 company that was founded in 2007, was quietly shut down after taking in a total of $15 million in venture capital from Menlo Park, CA-based Draper Fisher Jurvetson and San Diego-based Mission Ventures. ProQuo was never able to validate its business model; its website offered consumers a way to remove their names from mass-mailing lists for free, and the company planned to sell its optimized lists back to mass marketing companies.

—San Diego’s wireless industry group, CommNexus, celebrated the opening of EvoNexus, its free high-tech incubator, by announcing the selection of three more startup companies: EcoATM, MicroPower Technologies, and TetraVue. CommNexus CEO Rory Moore says EvoNexus is believed to be the first incubator that is completely free for startups—that is, it doesn’t even require an equity stake in participating companies, as most incubuators do.

Jitterbug, the San Diego wireless provider that puts an emphasis on simplicity, has acquired MobiWatch, a Waltham, MA-based startup developing mobile personal emergency response services. A regulatory filing shows that Jitterbug’s parent, GreatCall, provided 630,000 shares of common stock to MobiWatch and its shareholders in a deal valued at $107,100.

—San Diego-based Networkfleet is using its technology to help companies that operate fleets of vehicles go green by monitoring engine emissions and ensuring that vehicles are operating efficiently. Co-founder Diego Borrego told me the company also expects to be a player as consolidations sweep through the fleet tracking industry.

EcoDog, a Vista, CA, cleantech startup that has developed a device that helps homeowners sniff out savings in their electric utility bill, was named best of show at GadgetFest, the annual fall competition sponsored by CommNexus, the San Diego wireless industry group. EcoDog founding CEO Ron Pitt won over the crowd when he declared, “My product is the only product up here tonight that saves you more money than it costs.”

—San Diego-based cleantech startup EESG is looking to raise $1.2 million to expand the 10-employee company’s sales staff, purchase inventory, and ramp up public relations and marketing. The company’s founders told me they have raised about half so far, including $300,000 from Longboard Capital Advisors, a green investment firm based in Santa Monica, CA.

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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