Press release

DSM again helps startups accelerate innovations in solar materials through unique SunRISE competition and acceleration program

Parsippany NJ, US, 02 Mar 2017 18:00 CET

Royal DSM, a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials is the driving force behind the SunRISE TechBridge Challenge II, building on the success of the first SunRISE TechBridge Challenge. Sponsored by DSM, in partnership with the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems TechBridge program (Boston, MA) and Greentown Labs (Somerville, MA), the largest cleantech incubator in the U.S., SunRISE II offers startups a unique opportunity to fast track their business. Startups will also benefit from the partners’ expertise, and from potential collaboration with DSM’s solar business as well as eligibility for venturing investment by DSM. For DSM, SunRISE provides a unique approach to swiftly evaluate opportunities for collaboration and investment, in order to foster and accelerate innovations in its solar business.

New open innovation model works

“The program is a unique approach in the solar materials space. SunRISE is designed to let us evaluate a thematic cohort of possible collaborations and investments in parallel and in a compressed time frame. SunRISE also offers tailored peer-learning by co-locating DSM’s solar business and the startups under one roof,” says Pieter Wolters, Managing Director of DSM Venturing in Cambridge, MA. “I’m pleased with the results of SunRISE I in 2016. The two additions to our Venturing portfolio are exactly the sort of companies we’re looking for. We’re able to help them leverage their early successes through our investment. We plan to extend this approach into other fields as well. It’s a great way to share learnings and do business with each other between startups, DSM, partners and the solar innovation ecosystem alike.”

Making an impact in solar innovation with SunRISE I

The first SunRISE TechBridge Challenge in 2016 attracted 56 applications. Of the five winners, two received venturing investments from DSM Venturing and several others are in active partnership discussion with DSM. QD Solar Inc. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) has developed a technology to increase the output of solar modules by capturing infrared energy that is currently wasted. WattGlass, Inc. (Arkansas, US), has developed a water-based anti-reflective and anti-soiling coating that has the potential to improve the performance of solar panels.

“DSM is a leader in our market,” says Corey Thompson, CEO of WattGlass. “They have extensive experience in developing and commercializing material-based solutions for high-tech markets. We’ve benefited greatly from working with DSM Venturing and the other SunRISE partners, and the opportunities that have opened up for us as a result of winning the 2016 Challenge have been remarkable.”

Dan Shea, CEO of QD Solar, is equally enthusiastic: “The award of the SunRISE TechBridge Challenge 2016 has been instrumental in enabling us to gain financing from DSM Venturing and others, and to work with DSM’s solar business on commercializing our technology. Without the award, there’s no way we could have reached this stage so quickly.”

SunRISE TechBridge Challenge II

Based on the success of the first SunRISE TechBridge Challenge in 2016, DSM, in partnership with Fraunhofer TechBridge and Greentown Labs are now seeking further innovative solutions that will reduce the LCOE of PV systems.

Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Novel PV cell and module materials; 
  • Data analytics and/or advanced sensors; and 
  • “Retrofit” solutions that boost the power output and/or reduce operation and maintenance costs of PV modules already installed in the field.

Winning applicants will be eligible for one or more of the following awards:

  • Up to $25,000 in technical validation services from the world-renowned Fraunhofer R&D network; 
  • Greentown Launch, a 6-month structured acceleration program for solar startups at Greentown Labs, including valuable tools, products, and services; 
  • Partnership and/or a project with DSM; and 
  • Venture investment from DSM. 

Applicants will be evaluated based on the potential impact of their solution, with a key parameter being LCOE and time to market. Proposals are due by 15 March 2017 at Awardees' intellectual property is fully protected throughout the process.

Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems CSE

Fraunhofer CSE is a non-profit applied research and development laboratory dedicated to the commercialization of clean energy technologies for the benefit of society. With a focus on building energy technologies, solar photovoltaics, and distributed electrical energy systems, Fraunhofer CSE engages in collaborative research with private companies, government entities, and academic institutions. Fraunhofer CSE is one of seven centers of Fraunhofer USA, a 501(c)(3) non-profit contract R&D organization, a subsidiary of Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Europe's largest contract R&D organization.

Launched at Fraunhofer CSE in 2010, the Fraunhofer TechBridge program identifies and de-risks promising technologies to solve industry challenges. By performing targeted technical searches and conducting validation and demonstration work, TechBridge evaluates and prepares innovative early-stage products for investors and industry. More information can be found at

Greentown Labs

Greentown Labs is a community of bold, passionate entrepreneurs creating game-changing energy technologies that transform the way we live, work and play. Located in Somerville, Mass., Greentown Labs is the largest cleantech incubator in the United States, operating a 33,000-square-foot facility that enables entrepreneurs to solve today’s biggest energy and environmental problems. Greentown Labs hosts a constant stream of events and programs for the cleantech community and tours more than 10,000 visitors from around the world each year. Its mission is to enable a vibrant community of entrepreneurs to realize their visions by providing access to the resources, labs and funding they need to thrive. Greentown Labs will open its 55,000 sq. ft. Global Center for Cleantech Innovation in late 2017; for more information please visit

For more information

Hugh Welsh

DSM North America
+1 973 257 8208

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