By Jonathan Matsey
Lowell, Mass. -- Konarka, a developer of photovoltaic cells that convert light into direct current electrical energy, has secured a credit line from Silicon Valley Bank and entered into an agreement with Electricite De France (EDF) to develop its technology.
The revolving line of credit for up to $2 million from Silicon Valley Bank will help the company as it moves to a commercialization phase, said William Beckenbaugh, president and CEO of Konarka. The start-up is based in Lowell, Mass.
In the meantime, the company is also raising a Series C round of financing, expected to close $12 million to $15 million this quarter from new and existing investors. This funding will finance research and development, provide working capital, and prepare the company for its 2005 product launch. With another $20 million infusion of cash planned for 2006, the company is expecting to break even in 2007.
Konarka plans on targeting the off-grid market, said Mr. Beckenbaugh. In particular, the company foresees three main verticals: military applications, recreational products, and mobile devices. Already, the company counts the Army and the Office of Naval Research among its customers.
Konarka has also entered into an agreement with EDF, the world's largest utility. EDF is one of Konarka's investors and will be providing access to its laboratories and scientists through its American subsidiary, Easenergy. "The arrangement gives us discounted access to senior scientists," said Mr. Beckenbaugh. EDF will provide one scientist on rotation and additional access to other technical staff. The agreement will also help to fill a gap in EDF's technical expertise. "EDF does not have a lot of solar expertise," said Mr. Beckenbaugh.
Konarka, founded in June 2001, has raised $13.6 million in two rounds from Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Ardesta, NextGen Partners, ChevronTexaco, Eastman Chemical, EDF, and Zero Stage Capital.