Product | Technology | Patents

Exeger – Wireless and Crystal Clear

The Swedish solar cell company Exeger has patented a solar cell film that can cover objects to charge them. A solid plan for the intangible assets from the start has been a prerequisite for global expansion.

Since the Swedish solar cell company Exeger won first prize in the EPO's European Inventor Awards 2021 and received significant media breakthrough with its invention, a lot has happened, shares founder and CEO Giovanni Fili.

Porträtt på korthårig man
Giovanni Fili

"We have raised around 135 million Euros in total, we have launched seven new products on the market and signed exclusive rights agreements with several clients who hold over 50% of their market. In April, the first hearing protectors from 3M Peltor featuring our technology will be released. We have signed a global exclusive rights agreement with the world's largest manufacturer of digital price tags used by Walmart and IKEA among others. Also, the world’s largest manufacturers of mice and keyboards, as well as the biggest manufacturer of technology used in cars for toll payments."

To sign agreements with the biggest clients, it was necessary to have two manufacturing sites, in case something happened at one factory. Thus, they opened their second factory in the spring of 2023. Now they employ over 200 staff.

Early thoughts on intellectual property strategy

When Giovanni Fili teamed up with CTO Henrik Lindström in 2009, he early on contacted Katarina Lundblad Pinnekamp, a lawyer with extensive experience in IP issues at large corporations, and asked if she would join the board.

"I asked: How do you strategize to become the next Apple? She laughed. I didn't. After that, we developed a strategy that has helped us from the start."

They began by filing a patent in 2011 on the core technology regarding the architecture of the solar cell layer. Exeger produces a thin, flexible solar cell film containing a layer with 1000 times higher conductivity than previous solar cells, which is also placed behind, rather than in front of, the light-absorbing layer. The effect is that the solar cells can become a reliable energy source in both sunlight and indoors.

The raw materials in the production are cheaper than traditional solar cells, have lower carbon emissions, and are not so rare that they are controlled by a single nation.

"We have chosen to patent what one can see if one disassembles one of our solar cells. The recipe, process, and machinery, however, we keep as corporate secrets. Sometimes we started our patent application in the USA, sometimes in Sweden when we needed a quick opinion."

En bild på en robotarm över solceller
Solar cell

He describes their IP strategy as defensive, aimed at creating the freedom to pursue the goals in their business plan.

"There are many different protections that interact. We have the corporate secrets, the registered protections but also that we have invested in a scalable technology that has allowed us to quickly expand and secure contracts with the large clients we now have. This means they will also support us in case someone tries to copy our technology."

Never sent a product

For the first ten years, before there was a product on the market, they never sent away a solar cell. If clients wanted to do tests, Exeger went to the client's factory, participated in the testing, and took the solar cell back with them to avoid the risk of copying.

How do you get funding for such a secret technology when you don't want to disclose how it works?

"There we have received incredible support from Innovation Sweden. Vinnova and later the Swedish Energy Agency. When we apply for funding from them, they conduct a thorough technical review and test the technology. In many cases, that has been sufficient to convince professional investors of the technology's viability."

Besides patents, they have registered Exeger as a trademark, as well as Powerfoyle.

"We use the same strategy as Intel and are an 'ingredient' brand. Even if we make headphones together with Adidas, Powerfoyle is always mentioned on the product. This quality stamp is part of our long-term IP strategy that will become increasingly important in the future when our patents have expired."

The interview was made in 2024. Photo: Exeger