Tuesday, May 5, 2009

B-Solar, solar cell start-up, raises $3m from Genesis Partners

B-Solar Ltd., a solar cell start-up based in Israel, has raised $3 million from Genesis Partners in a first round of fund-raising. B-Solar also raised an undisclosed sum from angel investor and serial entrepreneur Gidi Barak, founder of IXI Mobile and DSP Communications (aquired by Intel in 2000), according to reports in Globes and The Marker (Hebrew) and a press release from Genesis.

B-Solar, founded in December 2007, is in stealth mode and does not have a web site, and little information about the company is publicly available. The company plans on establishing a manufacturing facility in 2010 to produce its photovoltaic cells, initially at a production capacity of 70 megawatts per year.

B-Solar's co-founder and CEO is Yossi Kofman. According to Kofman's bio, B-Solar "develops and manufactures photovoltaic (PV) bifacial, silicon solar cells that can provide 15-20% more energy per dollar production than the best of breed counterparts."

In the press release, Kofman states: “B-Solar will become a leading manufacturer of photovoltaic cells, producing hundreds of megawatts per year, while maintaining our technological leadership and competitive advantage". He adds, “B-Solar is in contact with a number of international photovoltaic panel manufacturers who have expressed interest in the product".

Yossi Kofman, who holds a D.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, was previously the co-founder and CEO of Modem-Art, a fabless semiconductor company acquired by Agere Systems (now LSI Logic) for $145 million in 2005. Modem-Art's investors included Genesis Partners, which is now backing Kofman at B-Solar.

B-Solar's other founders are Professor Naftali Eisenberg (CTO), Dr. Lev Kreinin (Chief Scientist), and Dr. Ninel Bordin (Scientist) of the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT). Professor Eisenberg founded and led the photovoltaic solar energy center and the non-conventional optics laboratory at (JCT), and, together with his colleagues, Dr. Kreinin and Dr. Bordin, turned the center into a leading university laboratory in the field of silicon based solar cells.

In 2007, Eisenberg authored an article on "Dialectic microconcentrators for efficiency enhancement in concentrator solar cells." In 2008, Eisenberg, Kreinin and Bordin co-authored an article on "A novel method for determining bulk diffusion length in bifacialsilicon solar cells."

Avishai Drori, a graduate of the Jerusalem College of Technology, and a veteran of Israel's high-tech industry, is B-Solar's Director of Product Management.

Following the $3 million investment, Genesis Partners' team members Dr. Eyal Kishon and Gary Gannot will reportedly join B-Solar's board of directors.

Gary Gannot, General Partner at Genesis Partners, stated, “We believe this is a unique investment in a high-potential company that will both spearhead research and development in the field and become a leading PV manufacturer. The global PV industry is poised for continued dramatic growth in demand, and we believe that B-Solar’s innovative technology and products will help realize the potential of this large and emerging market".

Genesis Partners is also backing SolarEdge, a stealth solar start-up developing advanced power-harvesting solutions for photovoltaic arrays that will lower the average cost per watt produced. Herzliya, Israel-based SolarEdge raised $23 million in a Series B financing round in 2008.

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