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innovalight.jpgInnovalight, a Silicon Valley company that says it has come up with new solar cell with nano-particles of silicon, has raised a large $28 million round of capital and said it plans to open a 30,000 square foot manufacturing facility next year.Innovalight is still being very vague on the details of its technology, and it’s very late to the game. There are already more than a dozen other large companies and start-ups that are developing new solar energy modules.

Innovalight’s claim to differentiation is that it won’t use silicon in its costly, inflexible crystalline wafer state. It will reduce the silicon to nanosize crystal dots (see our earlier coverage), so that it can be used as a sort of ink, where it can be painted onto surfaces. At this point, though, being late may not matter as much as getting it right. The market for solar is expected to be huge (the market is predicted by some to more than double to $36 billion by 2010), as long as the price of the product can get low enough to be competitive with competing sources of energy.

The company hopes to take the efficiency properties of silicon and outperform other start-ups companies that are working on flexible, ink technologies based on materials other than silicon, such as CIGS. These companies include Konarka, Nanosolar, Miasole, Solyndra, SoloPower and Heliovolt. Many of these companies have made promises about their technology, but have failed to deliver on their declared time frame. They’ve also been soaking up engineering talent in the sector, making it harder for late companies such as Innovalight to hire the people they need.

It is the Sunnvale, Calif. company’s third round of funding, and it was led by Norway-based investor, Convexa Capital and supported by Scatec AS. Existing investors Apax Partners, ARCH Venture Partners, Harris & Harris Group, Sevin Rosen Funds and Triton Ventures also participated in this financing. The company, founded in 2002, previously raised $14 million.
CEO Conrad Burke wrote a guest column for VentureBeat in March.

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