22 February 2010 - Natcore Technology Inc. said it has reached agreement with a consortium in China to form a joint venture company to develop and manufacture film-growth equipment and materials using Natcore's Liquid Phase Deposition (LPD) technology.
Natcore has signed a letter of intent with the Zhuzhou Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone ("Hi-Tech Zone") to form a new company, "Natcore China", with rights to manufacture anti-reflective (AR) film growth equipment and materials. Natcore China will be 55% owned by Natcore Technology, with the Hi-Tech Zone and its partners ("Chinese Partnership") holding the remaining 45% ownership position.
The agreement serves to fully fund remaining research, development and production costs for AR film equipment, according to Natcore President and CEO Chuck Provinibut.
Natcore China will be funded by an initial $3 million investment consisting of $500,000 contributed by Natcore Technology, and $2,500,000 contributed by the Chinese Partnership. Natcore China will have the exclusive right to develop, manufacture and sell AR film-growth equipment in China, and a three-year exclusive right to manufacture such equipment for sale outside of China. Natcore Technology and the Chinese Partnership have begun drafting a definitive agreement incorporating the principles reflected in the executed letter of intent. Completion of the agreements is subject to regulatory approval.
The Chinese Partnership will consist of the Zhuzhou Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone and two Chinese firms, including a major producer of polysilicon and a manufacturer of industrial equipment used in the solar industry. Natcore's partners project that the joint venture company will eventually create as many as 500 jobs in manufacturing and R&D.
Key elements of the joint venture include:
- Majority, 55% control of the joint venture company by Natcore Technology.
- Operation in China as a local company, with all intellectual property protections accruing to such a position.
- Natcore Technology funds 17% of joint venture; with the Chinese Partnership contributing 83%.
- A fast-track development program initiated upon signing of a definitive agreement, with a projected timeline of 10 months to first product shipments.
- Early integration of Natcore's LPD film-growth technology into existing solar cell production lines, in advance of final equipment development.
- The ability to fast-track revenues by accepting lead orders in China and throughout the world.
Under the agreement, Natcore China will complete the engineering and production of self-contained, self-replenishing film-growth equipment that will recycle the chemicals and water used in Natcore's LPD process. In advance of this, however, the Chinese Partnership envisions the incorporation of the technology into existing manufacturing lines through manual replenishment of the chemical bath. In this way, Natcore China would be able to serve its first customers, which may include members of the Chinese Partnership, before final product development is completed.