Peter Fischer, CEO of the German startup TecnoSunSolar, signed lease papers for space in UT’s Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex Thursday as Tom Crothers, deputy mayor for external affairs, UT President Lloyd Jacobs and more than 50 area business and economic development leaders gathered to welcome the company to Toledo.
TecnoSunSolar makes solar panel supports called trackers that move with the sun during the day, increasing the panel’s efficiency 25 to 40 percent. Using global positioning systems, the trackers can maximize the amount of sun the panels receive at any location in the world.
“This is precisely the role that great universities are called upon to play,” Jacobs said. “By maximizing our research strengths and engaging the world around us, we have found a partner from across the globe who decided to base his American operations in Toledo, Ohio.”
Fischer met UT’s delegation at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi in January and said he was impressed with the presentation made by Dr. Frank Calzonetti and his team both in terms of the solar expertise at UT and in Toledo, and in terms of the manufacturing and supply chain partners. Calzonetti is vice president for research and economic development.
“Toledo is where we want to enter the American market,” Fischer said. “Toledo will be the site of our U.S. headquarters, Toledo will be where we produce our trackers, and we will use this region’s logistics to transport our trackers throughout the world.”
Initially, Fischer said he is looking to hire a CEO and other senior leaders for the American operation. He plans to set up a demonstration and training site in the Nitschke complex and, as the company grows, establish a headquarters in the city.
“In Germany, the idea of universities providing incubator services does not exist,” Fischer said. “This is an ideal setting for us to develop the American market and to engage local manufacturing and supply chain firms to help us create and ship our trackers.”
Toledo is also ideal, Fischer said, because its existing solar infrastructure, from panel creation to panel installation, will provide solar partners and expertise locally.
“TecnoSunSolar is an ideal example of why we are engaging the global solar and alternative energy community,” Calzonetti said. “Toledo’s international reputation in these fields is growing rapidly. People are taking notice.”