This Spring SOFI invited early career scientists from our academic member institutions to apply to the SOFI Summer Workshop 2016 to be held August 10-11th in Chicago, IL.

We designed this workshop to be unique from the outset. We asked the participants to step back from the lab bench and look for ways current solar fuels technology could be brought into the market place. We asked them to present their plans in front of the rest of the attendees and we also asked then to come with an open and creative mindset.

On August 10th, we commenced the inaugural SOFI Summer Workshop with 4 attending scholars, two solar fuels entrepreneurs, an industrial analysts, and several scientific advisors ready to discuss solar fuel technology and its role in both current and developing markets. We were honored to have four phenomenal sponsors for our workshop:


Our Attending Scholars hailed from CEA Grenoble, Imperial College London, and Northwestern University. Agents from Michael Best & Friedrich LLP stopped in to become more familiar with the field of solar fuels and the possible reach of the current and developing technology. We were honored to have the Scientific Attaché from The French Consulate in Chicago attending, as well as a partner at Bain & Company, where we held the two-day workshop. Our Industrial Mentors were instrumental in the success of the workshop. Both the President of Catalytic Innovations and a Founding partner at Opus 12 were able to present the detailed challenges and rewards of creating a startup around scientific technology associated with solar fuels.

SOFI Summer Workshop 2016 - August 10-11, 2016

SOFI Summer Workshop 2016 – August 10-11, 2016

Our goal for the 2016 Summer Workshop was to develop and encourage additional career pathways for early career academics. We wanted to highlight the often less traveled path of solar fuels entrepreneur and provide a robust platform for discussion and brainstorming with our experienced mentors. In these two areas, we believe the inaugural SOFI Summer Workshop was a success. And, as is always the case in science, everyone learned.

SOFI came away from the two days with a better grasp of how we can best leverage our skills and assets to support the creation of a renewable fuels market. We have the cogs of development turning at SOFI, and we are looking forward to the bringing the ideas from our workshop to reality. No surprises: the SOFI Knowledge Map is front and center on how we shall disrupt academic research and accelerate commercialization in a nascent industry.

As companies like Opus 12 and Catalytic Innovations navigate the complex start-up space, we are committed to supporting them as well as the early career scientists taking their science out of the labs. A rising tide lifts all ships!