Why Founders Factory G-Force is backing solartech pioneers Solivus

Feb 3, 2022

Read the original article on Crowdcube.

Having recently partnered with the green VC G-Force, leading company builder Founders Factory was looking to invest in promising climate tech companies when it came across Solivus.

Solivus is replacing clunky, heavy rooftop-solar panels with innovative ultra-thin solar film - which if fitted to the 2.5 billion square metres of roof space currently available could supply over half of the UK’s electricity demand. (As highlighted by a 2015 report from the BRE National Solar Centre)

After becoming a cornerstone investor in the solartech pioneer, here Marian Gazdik, co-founding partner of Founders Factory G-Force, explains why it’s supporting Solivus to drive the clean energy movement and help decarbonise the built environment.

What is the Founders Factory G-Force sustainability seed programme?

Recognising the critical need for scalable, innovative technology in addressing climate change, last year we teamed up with world-leading early stage investor and operator Founders Factory to launch our Sustainability Seed Program - the company’s first pre/seed investment programme solely dedicated to sustainability and climate-tech.

Through the programme, we’re really excited to be investing in and supporting entrepreneurs with innovative approaches to reducing the world's greenhouse gas emissions - helping them to rapidly scale their businesses.

Startups that join our programme benefit from seed investment, six-months of bespoke startup support using Founders Factory’s team of 70+ experts as well as networking opportunities with potential global customers, partners, large corporates and investors. It’s a really unique offering and we’re encouraging climate tech startups that haven’t done so already to apply.

Why have you invested in Solivus?

We believe it’s never been more important to nurture ventures whose tech-based solutions have the potential to quickly alter the course of our planet’s future. Solivus is one such venture - it’s on a mission to power commercial-buildings and homes with clean energy generated using new thin-film solar, overcoming long-standing weight and aesthetic challenges.

We believe Solivus is THE climate-tech startup to watch. It’s got really innovative tech, heavyweight backers and an impressive leadership team. CEO Jo Parker-Swift is a two-time exited founder and Solivus COO Matt Black is also the chair of Solar Energy UK, meaning the company has a great understanding of how it can disrupt the solar market.

How is Solivus revolutionising solar tech?

Although traditional solar panels have been around for decades, their adoption across the UK remains historically low. What many people don’t know is that traditional solar panels are actually too heavy to be fitted to many commercial buildings. Meanwhile, despite consumer appetite to power their homes with clean energy many homeowners are often put off by the ‘bulky’ look of existing panels or plan to move home in the coming years.

Solivus is revolutionising in both these areas. On the commercial front, it has developed solutions to wrap innovative flexible, sheet-like solar panels round the flat roofs of large commercial buildings, such as warehouses, hangars, stadiums and large offices.

For homeowners, Solivus recently launched its ‘portable’ solar arcs, using organic solar film in a recyclable structure which could potentially power your home or car for the next 20 years.

What’s the opportunity for clean energy to meet the UK’s COP26 pledges?

The opportunities are endless. The UK will have a serious appetite for sustainable energy in order to meet net-zero commitments.

In particular, transforming how the built environment (which currently accounts for 40%) is powered by solar will be key. In the UK alone, there is currently 2.5 billion sqm of roof space available - which if fitted with solar power generation could supply over half of the UK’s electricity demand. It offers the opportunity to create a decentralized network of renewable energy-producers featuring small home owners to commercial building landlords. That’s huge potential!

Its true potential extends way beyond that, as demonstrated in Solivus' work on the Cotswold airport. The airport is working to be the first airport in the world to use organic solar technology to power a new generation of hydrogen-electric aircrafts - with solar energy powering both the building and its aircraft. Solivus is installing organic thin-film solar (OPV) to the airport’s hangar roof to generate green hydrogen to power ZeroAvia's aircraft, which produce water as their only emission.

What are the next steps for Solivus and mass solar adoption?

As cornerstone investors, we've been helping Solivus on its Crowdcube campaign, which unsurprisingly has been hugely oversubscribed. The raise will help Solivus expand its team to help scale its rooftop business and mass market its ‘portable’ Solivus Arcs to homeowners.

To find out more about Solivus, visit the pitch page. Investments of this nature carry risks to your capital.

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