Note to Reporters: Photos of Professor W.S. Sampath can be found with the news release at http://www.news.colostate.edu/.
The Colorado State University Research Foundation and CSU Ventures on Thursday honored Colorado State University Professor W.S. Sampath with an Innovative Excellence Award for his role in creating Abound Solar – a growing solar module manufacturer with more than 250 employees along the Front Range.
“Dr. Sampath’s research has led to a successful, renewable-energy venture that is contributing to the Colorado workforce and meeting the Governor’s New Energy Economy goals,” said Kathleen Henry, president and CEO of CSURF. “We applaud him for his efforts and are pleased to honor him.”
CSU Ventures is a wholly owned subsidiary of CSURF.
Don Marostica, executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade and CSU alumnus, presented Sampath with his award. Also honored at the biennial technology transfer recognition reception were professors awarded patents over the past two years. Seven are in the College of Engineering, two are in the College of Natural Sciences and one is in the College of Applied Human Sciences. Additionally, professors Susan Bailey of CSU startup company Kromatid Inc. and Amy Prieto of CSU startup company Prieto Battery Inc. presented overviews of the respective companies at the event at the Fort Collins Hilton.
CSURF also gave special recognition to potato and wheat cultivar researchers, and to the related CSURF licensees: the Colorado Certified Potato Growers Association and the Colorado Wheat Research Foundation.
The CSURF event serves to recognize outstanding CSU researchers, inventions and startup companies. In the past five years, CSURF has assisted in the creation and growth of 18 startup companies, 15 of which are Colorado based. Invention disclosures increased 135 percent from fiscal years 2006 through 2009.
Abound is one of the most successful startups to emerge from CSU. Sampath, Al Enzenroth and Kurt Barth began to investigate low-cost photovoltaic solutions – focusing on thin-film cadmium telluride technology – in Sampath’s small Colorado State laboratory in the early 1990s. They formed a spinoff, now called Abound Solar in 2007 with the support of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden. In 2008, Abound attracted $104 million in venture capital – more than any other Colorado company that year.
To date, Abound has raised more than $150 million from private investors and institutions, including Invus Group, DCM, Bohemian Companies, Technology Partners and GLG Partners. Abound is currently producing low-cost, thin-film photovoltaic solar panels at its facility in Longmont. The company has gone from 40 employees a year ago to more than 250.
At capacity, Abound’s Longmont production facility is expected to churn out 200 megawatts of solar modules annually using a proprietary in-line semiconductor deposition process that converts sheets of glass into solar panels. The whole process takes less than two hours.
“The research in the lab is continuing; future developments will enable these modules to produce up to three times more electricity and significantly reduce the cost,” Sampath said.
About CSURF and CSU Ventures
CSURF aids the university with intellectual property patenting and licensing management; equipment leasing and municipal lease administration; financing of equipment, real estate and buildings through mortgage debt obligations; and land acquisition, development and management. In the technology transfer office, Colorado State technologies are available in numerous areas from biotechnology and electrical engineering to veterinary health.
CSU Ventures was created in 2007 as a business development engine to better connect businesses interested in university research associated with CSU’s Superclusters in the areas of clean energy, called Cenergy; infectious disease, called MicroRx; and cancer, called NeoTREX. CSU Ventures is a subsidiary corporation of the Colorado State University Research Foundation, a private, non-profit foundation that aids the university in overall research and educational efforts.