Claremont Creek Ventures will announce later today it added Harsh Patel as a partner at the Oakland venture capital firm, where he will scout for promising startups in health, clean energy and other fields.
Specifically, he will focus on companies applying big data, the catchall term for mining vast amounts of information to arrive at new insights and more accurate predictions in these sectors.
This has long been a focus area for Patel as a venture capitalist, angel investor, entrepreneur or executive at RRE Ventures, In-Q-Tel, Bina Technologies, Orbit Commerce and, most recently, Foundation Capital.
As a general partner at In-Q-Tel, the investment outfit affiliated with the Central Intelligence Agency, he led an early-stage investment in Palantir Technologies, the controversial company that helps three-letter intelligence agencies connect the dots in massive data sets.
Patel was also the president of Bina Technologies, which applies data analytics to the human genome, crunching information that can hold clues to health risks and personalized treatments.
In an interview at the early-stage investment firm’s offices, in the historic Rotunda Building near Oakland’s City Hall, Patel said he will be looking for investment opportunities in highly regulated spaces. These may carry significant risks — but also promise big upsides for companies that offer more efficient ways of doing things.
“The big pieces, the gnarly pieces, are energy, health care, government and defense,” he said. “Those aren’t always attractive venture capital areas, but there’s enormous spend.”
Claremont managing director Nat Goldhaber said Patel was a natural fit because his expertise and interests overlap significantly with that of the firm. CCV has long invested heavily in clean energy and medical tech companies, including Alphabet Energy, Blue Pillar, CellScope, DNAnexus and Natera.
He also said they brought on Patel as a new director to handle a surge in deal flow. Claremont made 13 investments last year and enjoyed a lucrative exit when Outerwall (better known by its earlier name, Coinstar) acquired portfolio company ecoATM for $350 million.
“We’re seeing so much great stuff and he had a great background in both genetics and in clean tech as an investor and as an [executive],” Goldhaber said. “That is one of the hallmarks for the foundation of this firm: People with real hands-on experience running things.”
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