UNSW-linked photovoltaic coatings startup first target for Google investor

UNSW spinoff Future Solar Technologies is the first Australian investment for Chilean private equity firm Grupo Arcano.

Grupo Arcano was founded by Alberto Chang-Rajii, who was one of the first to invest in Google back in 1996, intends to invest up to US$100 million in Australia. His 1 percent stake in Google, bought for US$10,000, is worth US$3.74 billion today.

The first target is Future Solar Technologies, which is developing paint-on solar cell technology. The $1.5 million company consists of a team of researchers led by UNSW researcher Ashraf Uddin.

The company is researching a new form of non-silicon photovoltaic solar cells that will rival silicon cells in efficiency, while being cheaper and easier to manufacture. It would also be applicable to more areas, creating power-generating laminates on things like roofing or on the windows of buildings and cars.

According to Chang-Rajii, the proposed product from Future Solar Technologies is unrivalled in terms of being eco-friendly, thin, flexible, light, affordable and easy to deploy.

Grupo Arcano has invested in some big technology brands, like payment solution Square, Snapchat, and Uber.