Q: Hello Thibaud. What developments have there been since CES 2017?
The general direction is the same. We continue to target the building sector, since our product HeliaSol® can be applied to facades and roofs to produce on-site green electricity. The most recent news is our participation in Solar Graffiti, the first project in the ENGIE Harmony campaign, where a sports field near Mexico City is illuminated at night with the energy collected during the day by the HeliaSol®.
Q: The company was founded twelve years ago, I think. If you were to start over at Heliatek, are there things you would change? What are the most important lessons you have learned from the adventure?
Over the last 12 years, Heliatek has developed not only new nanomaterials, but also new devices, organic solar films, and manufacturing processes. Currently, we are developing new markets. It takes time and perseverance to achieve this, and the road is not always smooth. If you apply yourself solutions can always be found, but it is important to keep looking at problems with a fresh eye.
The most important lesson? Perhaps “never give up”, quite simply. I would also add that in practical terms, it's very important to raise enough capital in time. Lack of funding can impose suboptimal decisions based on costs, and this can slow things down considerably.
Q: What will you be showing on your stand at Viva Technology?
We are proud to exhibit our HeliaSol® organic solar films, with the lowest carbon footprint of any type of energy production. They are ultrathin, light-weight, flexible, ready to install and connect, and can be applied to facades and roofs. Truly green!
Q: How is your relationship with ENGIE progressing, and do you have any particular wishes about this for the future?
ENGIE continues to invest in Heliatek: a great partner! We realized our first joint project in Belgium, at the Laborelec research centre near Brussels, where we installed our HeliaFilm® on the façade of the building.
One of our largest projects followed in November last year, when 500 m² of a school roof in La Rochelle were covered with HeliaSol®.
And ENGIE is of course our official partner in France. They distribute HeliaSol, offering a complete package of products and services, and take care of installation and maintenance. We are also starting to work with ENGIE in other countries such as Germany and the Emirates.
Q: What advice would you give to someone on the point of launching a startup similar to yours, or in the same field of activity?
Q: For you, the future will be...?
The future will be decarbonized and decentralized... and Heliatek will be part of that. We intend to shape the future of energy generation by enabling every building to produce its own electricity - green electricity.
Q: Anything you would like to add?
What is unique about Heliatek is that we develop our own raw materials. We have an organic chemistry lab where 15 chemists work to synthesize new molecules which do not exist in nature. This allows us to patent these materials and control both cost and access.
Q: And a slogan to define your company?
The Future is Light.
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