The investment group comprised of Virgin Fuels (founded by Sir Richard Branson), Gemini Israel Funds, Israel Cleantech Ventures, and Altshuler Shaham has awarded $9 million to Metrolight, a manufacturer of software-based smart electronic ballasts for high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps.

Metrolight's smart electronic ballasts help its customers reduce lighting energy costs by 40 percent to 65 percent, the company says, in addition to doubling lamp life and reducing maintenance costs. The investment will help the company accelerate its expansion and its efforts to establish smart electronic ballast technology as a standard for electronic HID lighting.

"Electronic HID demand is exploding right now for a lot of reasons, and we've been having trouble keeping up with demand," notes Randy Reid, executive vice president and sales manager for Metrolight. "Now we'll be able to have more sales people on the street, have more product, and spend more time with architects, lighting designers, and engineers getting products specified. We'll be able to go out and train and certify contractors."

Virgin Fuels was formed to invest in companies in the renewable energy and resource-efficiency sectors in the United States and Europe that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency. As part of the investment, Virgin Fuels' managing partner Shai Weiss, Gemini Israel Funds' general partner Adi Pundak-Mintz, and Israel Cleantech Ventures' general partner Glen Schwaber will join Metrolight's board of directors.