Konarka Technologies

February 11, 2003
Section: Business

Konarka buys Austrian company

FRANK TUTALO, Sun Staff

LOWELL Konarka Technologies Inc., a solar energy equipment startup, announced yesterday that it has acquired an Austrian company that specializes in plastics-based solar cells. Terms of the deal were undisclosed. Quantum Solar Energy Linz becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of Konarka, and its top scientist, Dr. N. Serdar Sariciftci, will sit on the company's Scientific Advisory Board.

"We don't believe it's too early to do this (acquisition), because they've owned their technology and it's a really wonderful compliment to our company," said Konarka's chief product marketing officer, Paul Wormser. "...The real issue is that they have intellectual property rights and we now own them."Konarka's technology is about making plastics that use solar power to run electrical devices. While its focus is on dye-based solar technologies, Quantum, of Linz, Austria, keys on organic photovoltaics.Konarka Chief Executive William Beckenbaugh said he is "confident that organic photovoltaic will be a commercial success" and both he and Wormser hinted that hybrid technologies are possible as well.Founded 19 months ago, Konarka has raised $13.5 million in venture funding and recently landed a $1.5 million state loan. It first explored joint research projects with Quantum more than a year ago. But as executives continued talks, they realized it would be better if they acquired the company, Wormser said.All eight of Quantum's employees will be kept, he added, noting it's even possible they will add workers there as production ramps up.
The Austrian company's product cycle is behind that of Konarka's, as the Boott Mill-based company hopes to have something on the market within the next 12 to 16 months.

Frank Tutalo's e-mail address is ftutalo@lowellsun.com

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