Posting in Design
Organic solar thin-film maker Konarka Technologies, which has raised at least $150 million from investors, can no longer attract the financing it needs to continue operations.
Investors remain confident in certain thin-film technologies. Konarka Technologies isn't one of them.
The Massachusetts-based organic solar thin-film company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and will cease operations. Howard Berke, Konarka's chairman, president and CEO, said the company was unable to obtain additional financing and is unable to continue operations. Despite the grim circumstances, Berke is still holding out hope for the company. Several large international companies had expressed interest in financing or acquiring the company, Berke said in a statement.
Konarka hasn't always struggled to attract the funds it needed. The company was founded in 2001 by Berke and Alan Heeger, the won the Nobel Prize for his work in conductive polymers. Heeger invented a photo-reactive polymer material that can be printed or coated inexpensively onto flexible substrates using roll-to-roll manufacturing. The company's Power Plastic, which converts light into electricity, can be manufactured into a number of end-use products including curtain walls (see photo) and portable shade structures and even sunbags designed to charge mobile phones and Mp3 players.
By my count, Konarka raised more than $150 million in venture capital, seed funding and private equity money, including a $45 million investment from Total. That's not including a $1.5 million loan from Massachusetts' clean energy fund while presidential candidate Mitt Romney was governor; another $5 million loan in 2009 for manufacturing and job creation from two state government funds (this time under Gov. Deval Patrick's watch); and a $6 million grant from DARPA. Other investors include 3i, Chevron, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Mackenzie Financial and New Enterprise Associates.
Konarka was targeting a couple of markets, notably the nascent building-integrated photovoltaic market (BIPV). Breaking into the construction business is hard enough. but Konarka had the added challenge of selling a product that was only able to convert a small percentage of the sunlight into electricity.
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Jun 4, 2012
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In total they recieved just over $20 million in taxpayer loans/grants since 2003. The $1.5 million loan from 2003 has already been paid back to the state. Chalk that up as a good investment for taxpayers from the businessman turned gov. The bulk of the $20 million was paid out in the past 3 years was from current MA gov. Deval Patrick (D) and the Obama administration. Most of it in the form of grants that are not paid back. A $1.5 million loan made 9 years ago and already paid off is chump change to over $18 million in the past 3 years. Much of it will never be seen again.
Are we ever going to get that, for now, solar is not the energy we need to be focusing on right now. What is the problem with our country that we don't know this. Please no more throwing good money after bad in this arena.
Yes, in all Konarka says it received "$20 million government research grants." Thanks for the additional info. However, I'm not sure I agree with the bulk of its has come from the Obama admin/Gov. Patrick. Much of that funding came from European governments, according to Konarka. And another chunk of government research money came, such as the National Science Foundation's award and a US Army contract in the company's early days. I think it's safe to say a lot of government entities as well as numerous venture capital firms, major corporations and private equity thought it was worth investing in this company's tech.
A lot of taxpayer money floated this company for 9 years, BUT... To compare Romneys $1.5 million taxpayer backed loan, that was paid back, to the losses of taxpayer dollars seen by both Patrick ($56 million to Evergreen) and Obama ($500 million to Solyndra) is a bit of a stretch.
It seems the only purpose to mention Romney is to link him to the failure. As both Patrick and Obama have been linked to their respective failures. The broken link to the failure is the fact the much smaller loan had been paid off. Making the mention of Romney factually pointless unless there was a political motive to try and link him to the failure.
So, would it be more creditable then to ignore the Mitt Romney connection and simply not mention it? And to be clear, I didn't make a comparison to Patrick or Obama. I included the investors who supported the company and made special note of a couple of government grants and loans as well, including financing support it received from BOTH Romney and Patrick. It would be totally irresponsible to leave out the loan given to the company while Romney was in office and just keep the Patrick-endorsed loan listed. Yes, it's tiny compared to other loan guarantees that have been issued to other companies, including Solyndra. But this wasn't an article comparing Solyndra and Konarka. The piece was about Konarka, its money woes and the numerous investors and government agencies that supported the company. So, I listed its investors and noted some of the government support its received, the vast majority of which occurred between 2003 and 2007. Further, the connection had to be mentioned; and it would need to be for any presidential candidate who's current positions don't reflect previous behavior or stances.