Irish fund invests €350k in solar technology start-up

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Kernel Capital, an Irish venture capital fund, announced yesterday a €350,000 (US$465,000) investment in Dublin-based Nines Photovoltaics, an innovative solar cell equipment technology company.

Kernel Capital is the manager of the Bank of Ireland seed and early stage equity fund, a €32m fund that invests in start-up and early stage companies, with a focus on export-orientated, high potential start-up companies in green tech and other sectors.

Nines received additional funds from investor Business Venture Partners (BVP), the largest investor in Irish cleantech early stage technology companies.

Details of additional parties have not been disclosed.

Nines' research is focused on reducing solar costs by dramatically changing the processes used to make solar cells.

Nines is the first company to offer a dry process solution providing high throughput and using only zero global warming potential chemicals to replace the existing 30 year-old water-based chemical etching process used in solar cell manufacturing.

Together with the Freiburg, Germany-based Fraunhofer ISE – Europe's largest solar energy research institute – the Nines team is validating its first silicon wafer processing tool in a production environment.

Nines aims to use the funding to complete process development work and launch their product onto the market.

Edward Duffy, CEO of Nines Photovoltaics, said: "As the number of global solar installations continues to rise, cell manufacturers continue to look for innovative solutions to reduce costs and increase efficiencies to survive. We are ramping up our process development and entering the market with a disruptive new technology that will address manufacturers' needs."

John O'Dea, department manager of high potential start-ups, communications & digital content, Enterprise Ireland, added: "Nines Photovoltaics is exactly the type of innovative export-oriented company Enterprise Ireland is keen to support, and we are working with them to further develop their international growth."

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