New solar technology cluster lands first deal in the Middle East

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne (EPFL) and an associated cluster of research institutions and companies based between Lake Geneva and Neuchâtel, has developed numerous Photovoltaic (PV) technologies. These have triggered spin-offs, and intellectual property has been in-licensed by PV manufactures and equipment makers, such as Oerlikon Solar.

Since June 2011 The cluster is now operating under the banner of, “Pole suisse de technologies solaires”.  “We want to combine our competencies to attract solar companies into the region and help our member companies to replicate their business models in other regions,” explains the president of the cluster, Daniele Oppizzi, CEO of Iland, a solar technologies integrator. Automotive makers

Major German car makers and a French electric vehicle developer have been already  attracted to the cluster, drawn in particular to the industry-oriented IMT-EPFL PV Lab in Neuchatel. Civil engineering companies and architects have expressed interest too, but the cluster’s big breakthrough has been in the Middle East. A delegation from the Swiss solar cluster, lead by SymbioSwiss’s director Claude Béglé and Geneva’s OPI, has agreed a long-term partnership with the Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting (GOIC), to collaborate on technology transfer. This supports investment in R&D, and will co-finance Swiss PV companies serving the Gulf market. “The Gulf States have clearly chosen to diminish their dependency on oil, and solar energy is thriving there”, Oppizzi says.

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