The mission of LaunchBox start-up Solar Flare is to produce natural gas, a commonly used fossil fuel, by using sunlight.

Solar Flare mimics natural photosynthesis to transform carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into completely clean, carbon-neutral and recycled fossil fuels. 

“Global warming is a catchphrase that has been used for the past decades to show us poorly we have treated the planet,” explained Solar Flare founder Dr Alina Meindl. ”However, this has also fostered many projects to work for improving how we produce energy in a more sustainable way.

“Our technology is economically and environmentally stable, requiring only sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water to create natural gas”

“With this in our forethoughts we developed Solar Flare as a revolutionary service where we can not only improve how humanity produces fossil fuels, but can also have a beneficial impact on the environment. This can improve the quality of life of this and future generations. With this in mind we are hoping to develop a method that will disrupt the current global market of natural gas and help install something better in its place.”

The company was one of 10 start-ups that took part in the accelerator. LaunchBox, in partnership with Bank of Ireland, and managed by experts in Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace at Trinity College Dublin, provides mentorship, funding, access to alumni and investors, and the ideal collaborative environment to launch new start-up ventures.

Dr Meindl explained: “Our mission is to bridge the gap between research and real-life by using our knowledge for the betterment of humanity. We have developed a method of transforming atmospheric carbon dioxide and converting it into a usable, carbon zero, and renewable form of natural gas. Our technology is economically and environmentally stable, requiring only sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water to create natural gas.”

Illuminating science

Man and woman in formal dress.

This concept was born from the research of the founder Dr Alina Meindl who with the help of co-founder Dr Keith Flanagan (both pictured left) and their board of advisors Prof. Dr. Mathias O. Senge (Trinity College Dublin) and Dr Eric Risser (founder of Artomatix) decided to bring solar flare into the light.

“Throughout our years as an academic researcher, we have seen many projects that have incredible potential, never make it to the public sphere. With this in mind we started Solar Flare as a way to disseminate what we believe is a crucial solution to a real-world problem providing a sustainable green solution and help build bridges over the gap between academics and industry.”

Dr Meindl has found the Irish start-up ecosystem to be vibrant and supportive. “The main impression we got is the tight and inclusive network that the start-up ecosystem has. There is always someone willing to give advice or an introduction to a new potential contact.

“Currently we have raised €41,000 of non-equity funding through Enterprise Ireland, LaunchBox, Climate-KIC and New Frontiers. We have also applied for the Enterprise Ireland commercialisation fund and but are always looking into new methods of funding.”

Network with purpose

A fundamental lesson in entrepreneurship has been to always ask the right questions. “Uncertainty leads to error and errors generally build up. So, it is important to be asking the right question to the right people before you begin with the wrong assumption.”

Her advice to fellow founders is to network with purpose.

“Contacts are the most important thing. In life it is all about who you know to make the most of the opportunities that surround you.

“While the apps and technology we use always changes, the main tool we use to stay agile is to always be contacting people. The door you don’t knock on always remains closed. That and close communication between the founders has been key to running this enterprise.”

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 23 September, 2020

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