The Empa spin-off Perovskia Solar has been awarded second place at the Swiss Innovation Challenge, leaving more than 100 competitors behind. The prizes were presented by Federal Councilor Guy Parmelin. Perovskia Solar manufactures digitally printed, customizable solar cells that seamlessly integrate with electronic devices and sensors to produce electricity even in low-light conditions.
A large number of spectators watched the award ceremony at the Swiss Innovation Challenge 2022 (SIC 2022) at the "Haus der Wirtschaft" in Pratteln/BL, on 24 November. More than 100 applications were received for the First Pitch of Switzerland's largest innovation competition; 25 of them had made it to the final round. Second place went to Empa spin-off Perovskia Solar, founded by former Empa researcher Anand Verma, together with Toby Meyer, a solar pioneer and long-time CEO of the company Solaronix. The scientific advisory board of Perovskia Solar includes Frank Nüesch, head of Empa's Functional Polymers laboratory, and Empa surface and coating expert Jakob Heier.
Electricity even in poor lighting conditions
Perovskia Solar develops and manufactures digitally printed, customizable solar cells for original equipment manufacturers. The solar cells are tailored to integrate seamlessly with electronic devices and sensors. They also work efficiently in low-light conditions such as homes and offices. Company founder Anand Verma researched printing processes for flexible, inorganic perovskite solar cells at Empa from 2015 to 2020 before starting his own company. Verma learned printing from scratch, so to speak, and perfected it at Empa: After completing a Bachelor of Engineering in Printing and Media Technology in India, he started his career as a production engineer at the newspaper India Today. Then he put an end to paper: During his master's studies at Chemnitz University of Technology and the Holst Center in Eindhoven, the scientist focused on the printing of electronic components. After that, he looked after the OLED manufacturers Novaled and Cynora, researching dyes, formulations and new printing technologies for OLEDs for the companies. Finally, five years of research work followed at Empa.
Awards from the hand of Swiss Federal Councilor
The Swiss Innovation Challenge is supported by the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), the Baselland Chamber of Commerce and the "Basellandschaftliche Kantonalbank". Since its launch in 2014, the competition has supported more than 850 projects and contributed to the creation of more than 1'650 jobs. To date, more than CHF 300'000 in prize money has been awarded and CHF 650'000 in support services in the form of seminars, coaching and mentoring.
The winner of this year's Swiss Innovation Challenge, aiEndoscopic AG, was able to receive the winner's trophy and a check for CHF 20'000 directly from the hand of Federal Councilor Guy Parmelin. Perowskia Solar received CHF 5000 as runner-up and was also honored with the special "Construction" award of CHF 12'500, supported by the Ulrich Stamm Charitable Foundation. Third place, endowed with CHF 5000, went to the company Spirecut AG.
"What we do makes sense."
"The most important thing that you get from this award is the visibility – not just in Switzerland but also in places you have never been to. That makes a huge difference", said Anand Verma in his acceptance speech. "Moreover, the award brings a certain credibility to our startup that partners and investors can trust – because it has been recognized: it makes sense what we are doing." According to Verma, this is also evidenced by the fact that the young company is already supplying a double-digit number of paying customers with their printed solar cells – and that less than a year after the company was founded.