The Greentown Labs Launch program ‘SunRISE’ (a partnership between Greentown Labs, Fraunhofer TechBridge and Royal DSM) ran from June to December taking four early-stage solar materials startups with innovative technology to lower the levelized cost of solar energy through six months of workshops, training and events designed to de-risk their businesses and prepare them for potential partnership with program sponsor, Royal DSM.
Last week, DSM announced venture investments into two of the five startup awardees in SunRISE, WattGlass and QD Solar. These investments serve as critical milestones for each startup and recipients as well as an essential success metric for the Greentown Launch program as it enters into the second iteration of this program, SunRISE II.We sat down with CEO of WattGlass, Corey Thompson, and CEO of QD Solar, Dan Shea, to discuss the benefits of SunRISE and why they’d encourage other solar startups to apply for SunRISE II in 2017.
Incubation & Community
During the four SunRISE workshops, participants gained full access to all the benefits Greentown Labs members enjoy. Furthermore, they participated in training sessions with experienced leaders from the solar industry which helped their companies grow. Although relocation to Greentown Labs was optional, WattGlass accepted the challenge and picked up and moved to Boston for the duration of the program. Here is what Corey and Dan had to say about the value Greentown Labs’ resources provided their businesses:
“The breadth of relationships we were able to make through the Greentown network are incredible. Being at Greentown Labs for the trainings offered was a great opportunity for QD Solar to grow our credibility, perfect how we share information about our business and meet people (investors and potential customers) who we will have the opportunity to get back in touch with as our company grows. The value of this access to information and people can’t be understated.” – Dan Shea, CEO of QD Solar
“The density of startups and community members at Greentown enabled us unique access to a network and resources that really helped our business. The benefits of relocating to Greentown were immense and I hope that SunRISE II participants take the opportunity to relocate.” – Corey Thompson, CEO of WattGlass
Business & Capital Opportunities
By connecting select startups to Royal DSM, the SunRISE program offered access to capital and market opportunities. Here is what Corey and Dan had to say about how these resources are shaping the future of their businesses:
“With the investment we received from DSM, we are able to meet our cost share requirements for our DOE SunShot award, provide runway for the next 12-24 months and devote time and resources into key activities our business needs to grow.
Approaching a module manufacturer to integrate our technology into their line as a small startup is a huge challenge. Thanks to our partnership with DSM, we have the opportunity, once our product is ready for market, to reach our customers through their extensive channels. This could provide a critical market entry opportunity for WattGlass.” – Corey Thompson, CEO of WattGlass
“DSM has extensive experience developing and commercializing material-based solutions for high-tech markets. We are excited to be a winner of the SunRISE challenge that enabled us to receive funding from DSM Venturing and start working with DSM Solar business on commercializing our technology. With the combination of the Series A and SDTC funding, QD Solar has the resources to advance, develop, test and de-risk our solar technology while concurrently developing the manufacturing processes needed to bring this technology to market.” – Dan Shea, CEO of QD Solar
Access to DSM
Throughout the six month experience, WattGlass and QD Solar had the unique opportunity to connect and build a relationship with employees across DSM’s executive suite, business arm and technical team. Each startup in the Greentown Launch program received over 10 hrs of one-on-one meetings with DSM during the programming at Greentown Labs. Here is what Corey and Dan had to say about the opportunity to work closely with DSM throughout the program provided their companies:
“With much of our technology’s potential still being proven out in the lab, building strong relationships with stakeholders at every level of DSM was critical to our ability to secure investment. Meeting executives flown into Greentown Labs as part of the Greentown Launch program was a key opportunity to do this that shortened our time to securing investment. Our team truly valued the chance to build a relationship with all the DSM team members over the course of the program.” – Dan Shea, CEO of QD Solar
“Being at Greentown Labs meant that if I needed to go speak face-to-face with the DSM investment team, all I needed to do was travel a mile down the street. This opportunity would not have been possible from Arkansas and I don’t know how we would have had this relationship building opportunity if we hadn’t been part of the Greentown Launch program.” – Corey Thompson, CEO of WattGlass
To SunRISE II and beyond!
As we celebrate the investment outcomes for both the QD Solar and WattGlass teams, Greentown Labs is excited to replicate this model for corporate innovation and startup collaboration through future Launch programs across other technology areas. In the meantime, we will continue this great work in solar with DSM in 2017 through the SunRISE II program! You can find more information about SunRISE II here, and please note, applications are due on March 15th.
Congratulations again to WattGlass and QD Solar, we’re proud of your teams and proud to have you in our community! Please visit www.qdsolarinc.com and www.wattglass.com for more information about each company.