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Qi3 Ventures Insight

Concentrating on Photovoltaics

It’s all very well having a grown-up staged methodology for evaluating investment propositions.  But eventually you reach the end of Stage 4, and have to decide whether to sign a cheque or not.  I gave myself the weekend to read through the background material and my due diligence assessment.  And then took the plunge.

On-Sun Systems is the newest company in the Anglo Scientific incubator.  The company is developing a low cost tracking mechanism for Concentrated Photovoltaics (CPV).  Their panels will be inexpensive, flat and capable of being roof-mounted.  In the 25% of the world solar market which receives sufficient direct sunlight for CPV to be worthwhile, their panels should deliver a competitive amount of solar energy for a given roof space and per dollar invested.  Most importantly, as a lapsed physicist who has spent my lifetime working with semiconductors, I love the fact that this business is developing an opto-mechanical tracking mechanism and not semiconductor materials.  There are already several suppliers of triple junction photovoltaic cells, and these will be merely a component in the assembly, rather than the focus of investment for On-Sun.

Above all, I like the people.  Every member of the management team has been approachable, professional and all of my (numerous) questions have been answered promptly and to the best of their ability.  I hope I’ll be reading these words with the same feelings in 3 years, but I’m pleased to be supporting the development of this business and look forward to their quarterly progress reports.

Ready to invest?

I attended a 3 hour session on angel investing organised by London Business Angels (I’m a member now).  Most of the afternoon covered familiar ground, but the scary part was the detailed exposition of the lists of items to be covered in due diligence.  Of course I like to think that I’m reasonably thorough in these things, but it’s clear that the world of angel investing is more generally populated with people who are happy for somebody else to do the due diligence and structure the deal, leaving them with the job of writing a cheque and chasing the share and EIS3 certificates.

I can see why.  The checklist presented in this afternoon’s session took me back to my corporate venturing days, when I had the time to spend months with lawyers dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s on warranty clauses.

The first lesson of going for a week’s holiday…

Is not to send out a mailshot publicising Qi3 Accelerator the day before you leave.  I’ve had nearly forty enquiries so far, and counting.  But I’m determined to focus on my personal investment – this time in a weekend in Paris, followed by a week of walking and wine tasting in Alsace.

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