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Cottonwood Technology Fund and STC.UNM Sign Option Agreement for Technology’s Solar Application

Dr. Ganesh Balakrishnan

Albuquerque, NM – May 7, 2014 Cottonwood Technology Fund and STC.UNM are pleased to announce that they have recently signed an option to license agreement for technology jointly created at the University of New Mexico and the University of Arizona. The heat-spreading technology will be developed by local start-up company First Photonics, a Cottonwood Technology Fund company, to test its application for solar energy. Invented by Dr. Ganesh Balakrishnan from UNM’s Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and by Dr. Jerome Moloney and Dr. Victor Hasson from the University of Arizona’s College of Optical Sciences, the technology was submitted to the Gap Fund @ UNM Committee for gap funding this year. STC created the gap fund to help UNM inventors reduce their inventions to practice (proof-of-concept), develop more experimental data for better patent applications, and make their inventions more commercially interesting to companies and investors. Cottonwood Managing Partner David Blivin is a member of the Committee.

Blivin, Managing Partner at Cottonwood, explained: “Even though we typically do get involved at the pre-product/pre-revenue stage, we typically wouldn’t get involved at the proof-of-application stage. However, after the gap fund committee passed on a project that we scored fairly high, we decided to have some of our technical network take a closer look. While, like most folks, we weren’t looking for solar opportunities, as our friends at NREL (National Renewal Energy Lab) and others took a look they confirmed our initial impressions. NREL is now providing some free materials and services, as part of their lab mission, to support the project.”

Lisa Kuuttila, CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer at STC.UNM, added: “One of the benefits of the GAP Fund @ UNM program is that it provides exposure to a number of exciting technologies on campus. We had 21 excellent proposals and were able to fund two from the main and HSC (Health Science Center) campuses. However, other UNM proposals often benefit from review by the investor members of our Gap Fund Committee. We are pleased that Cottonwood is interested in funding another UNM technology. We are very appreciative of their support as investors and entrepreneurs in new companies and new technologies that are helping New Mexico’s economy grow.”

Dr. Ganesh (Gunny) Balakrishnan commented that the proposal was submitted for gap funding “to provide critical funding to enable us to demonstrate that our patented heat-spreading technology for lasers could also have a dramatically positive impact on solar efficiencies, designs, and cost. I am grateful to Cottonwood for taking the time to look a little deeper and agree to step in and provide this funding directly.”

The technology is a method for extracting higher efficiencies from solar cells by integrating low-cost diamond heat spreaders with multi-junction solar cells to extend the performance of the cell at higher sun concentrations without a drop in efficiency. The technology represents a potential next generation for solar cells that may be more efficient and cost less than current low-efficiency silicon cells.

About First Photonics

First Photonics is a pre-development stage company focused on testing proven heat spreading and efficiency improving technology from the laser market, for the solar market.

About Cottonwood

Cottonwood Technology Fund (CTF) is a seed and pre-seed stage technology commercialization fund with offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico. It aims to cultivate the entrepreneurial community of the southwest region stretching from Phoenix to Denver to Austin and including the Rio Grande Technology Corridor running along the Rio Grande River from Los Alamos, New Mexico to El Paso, Texas. It is an area rich in resources, host to three federal labs, multiple medical centers, and over a dozen premier engineering schools and research universities. Collectively, they represent more than $10.0 billion in annual research across critical fields such as bio-sciences, new energy, nanotechnology, information technologies, clean tech and aerospace. CTF will work to provide venture services and capital to tech transfer opportunities having strong commercial potential. We borrowed our name from a tree native to the region. The Rio Grande Cottonwood—a welcome sight to pioneer desert caravans because it often signaled water—typically reaches 50 to 60 feet in height and can produce as many as 25 million seeds in a season. CTF aims to be as fruitful with its work. Visit our website at http://cottonwoodtechnologyfund.com.


As the technology-transfer and economic-development arm of the University of New Mexico, STC.UNM protects and commercializes technologies developed at UNM by filing patents and copyrights and transferring the technologies to the marketplace. We connect the business community (companies, entrepreneurs and investors) to these UNM technologies for licensing opportunities and the creation of start-up companies. For additional information, contact Erin Beaumont, STC Innovation Manager, at (505) 272-7912 or ebeaumont@stc.unm.edu. To learn more about us, visit our website at http://www.stc.unm.edu.

Source: STC.UNM

For more information, contact:

Denise Bissell
(505) 272-7310