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May 14, 2024

Marlborough battery firm backed by Bill Gates files for bankruptcy

An industrial building with a EV charging in front Image | Courtesy of Google Maps AMBRI's Marlborough facility

Ambri, a Marlborough-based manufacturer of liquid metal battery storage systems, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing difficulties in raising capital.

Ambri decided to file for bankruptcy following a 2023 financing round the company was unable to complete, according to a May 5 filing made by the firm to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. 

Ambri was founded in 2010 in Cambridge with seed money provided by Bill Gates, who was enthusiastic about the potential for liquid metal battery technology, according to the company’s website. Gates Frontier, the Colorado-based venture investment arm of the Microsoft co-founder, owns 36.8% of the company’s total equity and 54.42% of its senior preferred equity, according to court filings. 

The company said in the May 5 filing that it grew rapidly between 2021 and 2023, raising $150 million in equity financing, stating this growth was fueled by interest in Ambri’s work to develop low-cost, reliable battery systems that could lead to cleaner and more reliable power grids.

Bolstered by this investor enthusiasm, the company set out to raise additional capital to grow its research and development abilities and headcount, but was quickly met with fundraising difficulties.

“Like many pre-revenue companies in the renewable energy space, that initial growth was interrupted by an incredibly challenging fundraising environment,” the filing reads. “In the fall of 2023, despite strong interest from certain material investors, the Debtor was unable to complete a Series F financing round that would have enabled it to meet cell development milestones and complete manufacturing initiatives.”

Following this setback, Ambri attempted to find bridge funding from existing investors, but was only able to raise $42 million of the $50 million it required, leading to the decision to file for bankruptcy. 

"Ambri continues to make progress on advancing cell technology into its 3rd generation and moving towards its objective of establishing a commercial business," Dan Leff, executive chair and president of Ambri, said in a May 6 press release announcing the bankruptcy filing. "We are taking steps to build on this progress by strengthening our financial position and working with our lenders to support our future success."

Ambri is now seeking an expedited sales process that would allow for lenders or other bidders to purchase the company’s assets. The company has filed a number of motions with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to allow for the continuation of its operations during the bankruptcy process.

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