A team of three UC Merced Engineering (and Green Technology Entrepreneurship Academy) graduates recently founded SunTherm Energy, solar thermal technology company—and is getting some nice press for doing so (e.g., Student-Run Startup Planting Solar Roots in Valley).
SunTherm will focus on designing and creating industrial heating systems that use solar energy rather than natural gas — a more cost-effective solution that also reduces air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
The company is young and very much in search mode—finding their first customers, their best value proposition, and most promising business model. In addition to a technology with clear promise in a range of small and medium size industrial applications, the entrepreneurs have the energy and approach that will serve them very well.
The team met while studying under Professor Roland Winston, one of UC Merced's early faculty members and a pioneer in non-PV solar, or non-imaging optics—"the science concerned with collecting, concentrating, transporting and distributing light energy." There they were closely involved with the science and engineering, and now they are drinking from a fire hose of meetings with potential suppliers, customers, investors, early employees, lawyers and technology transfer officers as they build out the network they'll need to succeed.