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6N Silicon Raises $6M

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Toronto-based solar silicon purification startup 6N Silicon said on Tuesday that it’s raised $6 million CDN ($5.7 million) in its first round of venture funding. Ventures West and Yaletown Venture Partners led the financing and founder Scott Nichol tells us that the company is looking to grow to 17 employees by the end of the year.

One of the biggest problems for the solar photovoltaic industry right now is figuring out ways to lower production costs, and 6N says its process of purifying silicon for solar-grade use is less expensive than the traditional one used by the semiconductor industry. 6N’s Nichol tells us in an email exchange:

The traditional silicon purification process — ‘the Siemens process’ — takes 2 – 3 years and $200 million to $300 million to build a plant. 6N’s process will take significantly less time to build a facility and the production costs will be a fraction of the ‘Siemens process.’ — Scott Nichol, founder 6N Silicon

Other companies like Miasole, Nanosolar and Konarka are trying to drive solar prices down with nonsilicon technologies.

6N’s home base in the Toronto area has been the center of a growing number of clean tech investments lately. Toronto Star reporter Tyler Hamilton writes in his clean tech blog that the 6N funding is , “Yet another reason why we should be forming a cleantech cluster in the Toronto area.”

Last week the government backed Sustainable Development Technology Canada foundation approved another $48 million to invest in 19 clean tech technologies. SDTC has done ten funding rounds, with $285 million for 125 clean technology projects, and added another $690 million from project members, for a total portfolio of $975 million.

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