UbiQD- Leveraging quantum dots to improve crop yield & harvesting sunlight to generate electricity

Lab to Startup

May 31 2022 • 1 hr 3 mins

My guest today is Hunter McDaniel, the founder and CEO of UbiQD, a startup exploiting quantum dots to improve agricultural yield in greenhouses and generating electricity by embedding them into windows. In this episode of Lab to startup, we talk about how non-toxic quantum dots were developed at Los Alamos; the evolution of the use cases; fundraising trials and tribulations; the complications of convincing multiple stakeholders in the solar space; and how Hunter’s grit and persistence helped in building this startup.

Show Notes:
- UbiQD: https://ubiqd.com
- Using quantum dots to modify sunlight to enhance photosynthetic efficiency and boost fruit and flower production
- Help plants get more from the sun in a greenhouse and boost crop yields and quality without the cost or energy impact of lighting
- UbiQD solar windows are made from glass laminated with a quantum dot doped interlayer to generate electricity
- Translated research during his postdoc at Los Alamos national labs to products at his startup
- Licensed some technology from MIT and the rest from Los Alamos
- Technology evolved from trying to solve the problem of toxicity from cadmium and lead in quantum dots
- Swapped Cadmium with Indium and Copper
- Once the toxicity problem was solved, the hope was that companies would line up for the new solution
- Initially funded by NSF SBIR grant (10th attempt)
- While generating electricity from windows was funded, NSF I-Corp program helped find the greenhouse market
- Increases crop yield by 10-30%; 6 Watts/sq.foot while maintaining transparency of windows (half of traditional solar cells)
- https://ubigro.com
- Understand all the people that had to be convinced to adopt the products
- Ask for advice and you get money
- Investors: Breakout labs, Scout Ventures, Keiretsu Forum, Sun Mountain Capital, Epic Ventures, Plug and Play Ventures, Arcview Collective Fund, Nanosys.
- Relations with Nanosys, NASA, SpaceX, US Air Force
- Contact: https://ubiqd.com/contact/