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ESA BIC Switzerland wishes everyone a happy and healthy New Year 2017!

The year started with a kick off with the first ESA BIC start-up "Insolight" in Berne. We are very happy to get started with them. Below a little portrait:



Insolight has been founded by three EPFL students: Laurent Coulot (CEO & Co-Founder), Mathieu Ackermann (CTO & Co-Founder) and Florian Gerlich (COO & Co-Founder).

The start-up developed a flat optical panel that directs sunrays on smaller and highly efficient solar cells, which are normally used in satellites. The possibility to exploit these space technologies and the ability to bring them down to earth has played a significant role in accelerating solar transition.

Solar panels prices have drastically decreased over the recent years, but it is not enough to produce electricity at a competitive cost. Indeed, for residential installations, the solar panels represent in 2015 only less than 20% of the total installation costs (average in the US).

The solar panel efficiency is the key driver for a high return on investment. While traditional silicon solar cells have typically a low efficiency (17-20%), some commercially available technologies exist, with much higher throughput (up to 45%). However, the price for those cells is prohibitive and they cannot be used to cover the full sunlit area.

One solution is to concentrate sunlight on a smaller solar cell. All the sunlight can be concentrated in one single spot, which allows to save on material costs and makes efficient solar cells affordable.

Awards recently won by Insolight:

VentureKick I (12.2015)
EPFL Innogrant (01.2016) 
SPECo support grant (01.2016)
VentureKick II (04.2016)
Venture Top 4 Business idea (06.2016)
Climate KIC I (10.2016)
FIT Seed loan (10.2016)
VentureKick III (12.2016)
ESA BIC I (01.2017)

While many solar concentrators exist, they all present the same drawback: they need to be constantly pointed towards the sun. The common solution is to tilt the concentrator, around two different axes, to track the sun. However, all the panels’ weight needs to be accurately moved, resulting in a complex structure occupying a large volume, with cost overheads and reliability issues (wind load). For those reasons, concentrated photovoltaics were never competitive with the standard silicon solar cells.

Insolight aims to address this challenge with a new way of tracking the sun.  Its innovative technology redirects sunlight coming from any direction towards the concentrator. The concentrator placed below stays at a fixed position and can be mounted like any traditional solar panels. High efficiency and ease of mounting are combined, which opens new perspectives for competitive solar electricity costs.

ESA BIC Switzerland - Key Dates for 2017

  • Community Building Event 1, 2 February
  • Application deadline #1, 28 February
  • Community Building Event 2, 6 April
  • ENC 2017, @EPFL, 9-12 May
  • Info Event Romandie, TBD May
  • Community Building Event 3, 8 June
  • Application deadline #2, 9 June
  • ETH Industry Day, 29 August
  • Community Building Event 4, 31 August
  • Community Building Event 5, 5 October
  • Swiss Start-up Day, 25 October
  • Application deadline #3, 3 November
  • Demo Day for partners, tbd November
  • Venture Kick 10y ceremony, 29 November
  • Community Building Event 6, 30 November

What else is going on at ESA BIC Switzerland?

We are currently preparing all support letters to be transferred into membership / sponsorship agreements.
The outstanding incubatee contracts are about to be signed.
The deadline for the next selection round is set for February 28th 2017.

We are already looking forward to interesting and innovative applications. This time the scope is different, as also spin-outs and spin-alongs are welcome to send in their applications.
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ESA BIC Switzerland · Stampfenbachstrasse 56 · Zurich 8092 · Switzerland

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