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Investors Leader Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank have shined on solar cell company Innovalight, providing $5 million in new financing toward the development of silicon solar modules so small they can be painted onto surfaces like ink.

The Sunnyvale, Calif. company uses liquid processing of silicon to produce nanosize solar prarticles that are not only more efficient than crystalline wafers, but also much cheaper to make than regular solar panels. It received $28 million last year at this time to work on the same project. And Silicon Valley investors remain enthusiastic about the solar industry, hoping to carve out a piece of what is predicted to be a $36 billion pie by 2010.

Innovalight isn’t the only player when it comes to flexible solar tech. Several companies are working on ink models using materials other than silicon, like Konarka, Nanosolar, Miasole, Solyndra, SoloPower and Heliovolt. Nanosolar and Solyndra recently brought in $300 million and $600 million respectively to develop panels and rooftop installations utilizing a thin film of solar modules. Meanwhile, Konarka has hired a flock of engineers from Polaroid and plans to add 100 more to its headcount over the next couple of years. These companies focus largely on a film composition called CIGS, comprised of copper, indium, gallium and selenide.

Innovalight previously received funding from Apax Partners, ARCH Venture Partners, Harris & Harris Group, Sevin Rosen Funds and Triton Ventures. CEO Conrad Burke wrote a guest column for VentureBeat last March.


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