Effimax Solar is making major strides in the clean technology industry – and people are taking notice.
Effimax Solar, which uses nanotechnology invented in the Illinois Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, has created solar cells that are 22 percent more efficient at retaining the sun’s energy than any existing cell on the market; in addition, these cells shorten a traditional 3-hour production process to just 5 minutes.
“We are really passionate about what the technology can achieve,” Effimax Solar co-founder and College of Business student Rui Cai explained. “We want to make solar power affordable for mass production so everyone can use it. By using more renewable energy, we can reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”
The Effimax Solar team, which is made up of co-founders Yi Chen, Rui Cai, Jingrui “Lulu” Lu and Dr. Logan Liu, won the Spring 2011 Cozad New Venture Competition at the University of Illinois and is currently a semi-finalist in the North Central Cleantech Open, a nationwide clean technology competition hosted by MIT.
“I think our [competitive] achievements have been the best part of running Effimax Solar so far,” Cai said. “We have gotten to talk to a lot of people and get feedback at competitions, and we’re really enjoying the conversations we are having about the industry.”
Cai said his team has also learned a lot from its participation in Illinois Launch.
“Launch taught us how to set up a company in all aspects,” he said. “It was especially helpful in teaching us how to build a team and how to pitch to investors.”
Cai said that the entrepreneurial atmosphere at the U of I “is really great,” citing the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership, Illinois Launch and the Technology Entrepreneur Center as “having a lot of expertise to help students learn to start up a business.”
Cai said he was inspired to start Effimax Solar by the initiative he saw in UI students who were starting their own businesses while still in school.
“There are a lot of UI students with great ideas,” Cai said. “I hope Effimax Solar can inspire students to start their own businesses too.”
The Effimax Solar team is currently doing lab research – specifically, data testing – in an attempt to finalize what the final contribution of its technology will be to the end user.
“It is really hard work to start your own business, so be prepared before you start out,” Cai said. “You have to be prepared to put in a lot of time and energy. That is the most important thing.”
And if you should listen to anyone’s advice about how to spend your energy, it should be a member of the Effimax Solar team.