Energy crop company Ceres, Inc. has completed a private offering of convertible preferred stock. The proceeds will be used, in part, to expand the company’s research and commercialization activities in the advanced biofuels and biomass-to-power markets.

Over the past three years the company has launched its energy grass seed business in the United States and expanded its research and commercialization activities into the biopower, bio-based chemical and sugar-to-biofuel markets, including joint projects with electric utilities and next-generation biorefineries. The company also grew its international presence, and is deploying its seeds and technology in Brazil. Ceres President and CEO Richard Hamilton says that Ceres plans to build a leadership position in each of these markets.

Ceres currently markets improved seed varieties of switchgrass and high-biomass sorghum under its Blade Energy Crops brand, and has additional research programs in sweet sorghum and miscanthus. The California-based company’s biotech pipeline includes traits that can improve the economics of bioenergy production, make greater use of marginal land and enhance the environmental benefits of energy grasses. In 2009, Ceres received an ARPA-E award from the US Department of Energy to evaluate a trait that increases yield and reduces fertilizer requirements.

The financing round was led by Artal Luxembourg and Ambergate Trust, and included European investment company Gimv, among others. Other aspects of the offering and its participants were not disclosed.