Solar-boosting technology scores first ARENA VC fund investment

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QUT-developed technology to boost solar panel efficiency wins first investment from Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund.

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An innovative Australian solar technology with the potential to significantly increase the efficiency of solar panels will be the first investment by the Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund – part of the federal government’s commitment of $100 million through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) Renewable Energy Venture Capital Fund Program.

Queensland company, Brisbane Materials Technology, will get an initial amount of $1.5 million from the Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund as part of a total $2.5 million commitment. It plans to put this money towards the commercialisation of its QUT-developed, high-performance anti-reflective coatings, which can be applied to solar panels to make them more efficient and cost effective.

The company – which this year entered a strategic cooperation agreement with America’s EV Group, a leading supplier of coating equipment for the PV, nanotechnology and semiconductor markets – will also receive a matching $2.5 million investment from US-based New Ventures Partners.

The two companies announced in July they were collaborating to provide a cost-effective, industry-leading anti-reflective coatings for the PV market, using EVG’s large-area coating systems. According to the announcement, Brisbane Materials’ innovative technology enables the creation of a nano-porous silicon dioxide (SiO2) film from a liquid precursor at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, making it compatible with all existing PV-module and solar glass manufacturing lines.

“Southern Cross Venture Partners has helped secure matched international investment in an Australian innovation that draws on world leading technology developed at the University of Queensland,” federal Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, said on Monday.

“These funds will provide the Australian company with the best chance of capturing a significant share of the global market by delivering important improvements on solar technology,” Ferguson said.

“Importantly, Southern Cross Venture Partners and NVP will provide Brisbane Materials with active investment management support to help it overcome the challenges of commercialisation.”

Investments from the Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund are matched dollar for dollar by Softbank China Venture Capital (SBCVC) – a leading venture capital firm in Asia, headquartered in Singapore. Southern Cross Venture Partners is the Fund manager.

“Through this initiative we are encouraging the development of Australian companies that are commercialising renewable energy technologies, ultimately to improve their competitiveness and to increase the numbers of renewable energy companies that are successful in Australian and overseas markets,” Ferguson said.

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