Start-up developing new technology to convert solar energy to electricity receives significant funding boost 

Start-up developing new technology to convert solar energy to electricity receives significant funding boost

An innovative start-up founded by researchers at the University of Exeter has received a significant funding boost to further develop new technology that helps convert solar energy to electricity without the need for solar panels. 

The Spinout from University of Exeter, Build Solar limited has been awarded a project worth of more than £300,000 funding through the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP), from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to help accelerate the widespread introduction of net-zero energy buildings through the latest Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV). 

The Build Solar developed an innovative glass brick, which can be incorporated into the fabric of a building and is designed to collect solar energy and convert it to electricity. 

These bricks allow electricity to be produced at the site of use, whilst being seamlessly integrated into the building, maintaining daylighting and thermal insulation. 

The solar glass bricks, called Solar Squared, fit seamlessly into either new buildings, or as part of renovations in existing properties. Solar Squared uses intelligent optics that focus the incoming solar radiation onto small solar cells, enhancing the overall energy generated by each solar cell. 

The funding will be used to develop the Solar Squared technology to become reality and create pathways to commercialisation, to not only increase power generation but also test other environmental parameters at Cornish climatic conditions.  

It will also evaluate the best mechanisms to integrate them in buildings to maximise the thermal and visual comfort, and carry out business development through customer engagement.  

Crucially, the funding will also be used to support employment for the team, providing a boost for the Cornish economy. Professor Tapas Mallick, Director and Chief Scientific Advisor for Build Solar said: “Cornwall has highest renewable energy potential in the UK, and unlocking solar energy in an unconventional way provides pathways into Net-Zero transition quicker than anticipated. 

"This funding will unlock energy generation/utilisation potential within the built environment and support Build Solar for commercialisation new technology at the heart of Cornwall.” 

"Buildings are one of the largest consumers of energy; designing energy generation systems which can integrate well with their architecture could have a very large impact on reducing our future energy needs," said Dr Hasan Baig the Managing Director for Build Solar. 

UK Energy Minister Graham Stuart added: “This funding will see the next generation of energy pioneers drive forward cheap and sustainable low-carbon technologies. This will not only deliver green jobs and lower the costs of energy to businesses but also foster world-leading solutions to net zero and economic growth.”   

Neil Hayes, Assistant Director of Innovation, Impact and Business at The University of Exeter said: "This award is a significant milestone for BuildSolar and will help bring the technology a step closer to making a real contribution to energy efficiency and the transition to net zero in the built environment. The University of Exeter is pleased to be working with BuildSolar to deliver meaningful impact from our world leading research."

For more information about Solar Squared, please visit

Date: 8 February 2023