Innovalight Chief Awarded For Making Solar Cells (And Industry) More Efficient

The chief executive and president of Innovalight, Conrad Burke, won the 2010 Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award, the companies announced today, following the ceremony in Dublin, Ireland earlier this week. The award recognizes “entrepreneurs who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses” according to an E&Y press statement.

According to Innovalight’s website its silicon ink technology improves the photon to electron conversion efficiency of solar cells by one percent, which can drive the cost of solar energy down by six percent. Solar cells are semiconductor devices that convert photons from the sun into electrical current.

The U.S. Department of Energy backed Innovalight in 2008 with a $3 million grant for:

“…Developing very high-efficiency, low-cost solar cells and modules by ink-jet printing their proprietary ‘silicon ink’ onto thin-crystalline silicon wafers. The company’s contact-less printing process has been demonstrated to significantly reduce both the manufacturing costs and the complexity required to make today’s highly efficient [solar] cells and modules.”

Under Burke’s leadership, Innovalight has developed sales through licensing and collaboration deals with solar manufacturers, rather than through the manufacture and sales of its own solar photovoltaics. The company’s customers are major manufacturers seeking to increase the megawatts-per-year that they produce per line without increasing expenditures on new equipment. These include several of China‚Äôs top solar concerns, among them Yingli Green Energy, JA Power and as of last week SolarFun Power.

In January this year, the company raised $18 million in a series D round led by EDB Investments (EDBI) of Singapore, and joined by Vertex Venture Holdings (the venture subsidiary of Temasek Holdings in Singapore) and its pervious investors: Apax Partners, ARCH Venture Partners, Convexa Capital, Harris & Harris Group, Sevin Rosen Funds and Triton Ventures. That brought Innovalight’s total raised capital, mostly from venture, to about $60 million.