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Ambient to expand after latest funding

06 Sep 2023

Californian manufacturer of low-light solar cells says it has raised another $30 million.

Ambient Photonics, the Amazon-backed maker of dye-sensitized solar cells aimed at powering connected electronic devices, is to expand its manufacturing capabilities following a new round of funding.

The Scotts Valley, California, startup says it has attracted $30 million in what it called a “series A2” round led by Fine Structure Ventures - a venture firm affiliated with financial services giant Fidelity Investments.

Earlier this year, Ambient said it had begun mass production of its cells after previously raising some $50 million from a variety of sources.

Its sole filing with the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), from May this year, indicates that the firm raised $31 million in equity funding.

Commenting on the latest support, Ambient's co-founder and CEO Bates Marshall said: “This round demonstrates the commitment of both our long-time supporters and our new investors to our vision of sustainably powering the world’s connected devices.

“We’re embarking on a new growth phase with our customers to make elegant products that run reliably without ever needing a battery replacement or recharge.”

The company has recently signed deals with Taiwan-based keyboard maker Chicony and e-peas, a producer of low-power semiconductor chips headquartered in Belgium, with Ambient also targeting TV remotes, thermostats and other indoor devices for future applications.

Battery replacement technology
Ambient’s solar cells are based on some novel chemistry initially developed at the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry in Lowell, Massachusetts, with the firm spun off in 2019 by Marshall and CTO Kethinni Chittibabu.

Chittibabu was previously principal scientist at the flexible organic PV technology developer Konarka Technologies, which received substantial venture support during the solar boom period of the late-2000s before ceasing operations in 2012.

Ambient says it will use the latest injection of cash to expand its manufacturing capabilities, and drive mass-market adoption of the cells, which are intended to replace disposable batteries in connected devices.

Jennifer Uhrig, senior managing director at investor Fine Structure Ventures, said: “Our team is deeply impressed by Ambient’s unique low-light solar technology because of its potential to decarbonize the connected devices that now dominate the electronics landscape for consumers, retailers, and industry 4.0 applications.”

Also taking part in the latest funding round were new investors Helios Climate Ventures, Regeneration.VC, and Sustainable Future Ventures.

Jesse Johnson, managing director at Helios Climate Ventures, commented: “We recognize that disposable batteries and the toxic waste they create present an urgent problem for our planet. Ambient’s energy harvesting solution for connected devices is the kind of revolutionary technology we’ve been looking for.”

Dan Fishman, general partner at Regeneration.VC, added: “High-power, low-cost energy harvesting is an important prerequisite for electronics in line with consumer electronic companies’ environmental targets.

“Ambient's tech is poised to redefine how we power connected devices and directly reduce e-waste and the harmful effects of single-use batteries.”

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