Horn entrepreneurship venture wins green technology competition


A startup that’s figured out how to make solar cells at a very low temperature is following the entrepreneurial process at the University of Delaware because of its international renown for research and innovation in the space.

“I came to Delaware from India after completing my undergraduate degree in electrical engineering,” said Abhishek Iyer, who is working on his doctorate in electrical engineering after obtaining a master’s last year. UD is home to a world-renowned solar research lab and has nearly 50 years of history in research in this field. “I always wanted to be associated with a place that was fantastic for solar, and when I got in, it was a no-brainer that I was attending.”

Iyer and his startup have also been helped by Horn Entrepreneurship, which provides the UD community with opportunities to explore the potential and power of their ideas through programs, grants, mentoring, teamwork and support.

Iyer is co-founder of SHIO, a solar tech company that develops low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells. The name SHIO is an acronym created from the first letters of the co-founders’ last names.

The company’s latest milestone occurred April 27, when it won first place and $50,000 at LaunchR, a Rutgers University student-run clean technology innovation contest that is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. SHIO was able to take part in innovation workshops and consult with mentors in the green technology space before pitching to an expert panel of judges.


The SHIO team also includes James Hack, an engineering doctoral student in UD’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering; David Angel, a doctoral student in materials science and engineering; and Meixi Chen, who recently graduated with a doctorate in chemistry.

The venture hopes to resume researching in earnest this summer.

“We never thought we would be doing what we’re doing today,” said Iyer. “We were loving what we were doing, seeing the commercial impact of our research. It was really rewarding, and if I had stuck to just research, I would have never been able to see if the industry actually cared about what I was researching.”

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