In 2015, a devastating earthquake hit Srijna Jha’s home country, Nepal. At the time, the physicist was living in Germany and was unable to communicate with her family back home. “When a disaster happens, electricity and communication are cut off first,” says Jha.
Two years later, she and her business partners Katharina Diehl and Marit Bilandzija-Kenning developed a tool that could have provided electricity during the disaster: the Solar Cube. It is an origami-inspired solar charger which uses PV integrated solar textiles and solar cells. “While Solar Cube was built with a vision for rural development and disaster response, it would appeal to outdoor lifestyle consumers too,” says Jha.
Jha moved to Germany in 2011 to pursue a master’s in Natural Resource Management at Humboldt University in Berlin, and is currently doing a PhD on agricultural innovations for rural development at the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research in Müncheberg, Brandenburg.
Müncheberg was the natural choice of location, not least because it is a coal mining region. “Introducing green energy companies in regions which are dependent on fossil fuels makes a lot of sense because the priorities of the funding agencies are geared toward your goals,” she explains.
The corporation received state funding through the Gründung Innovativ program. The Solar Cube is still in the test phase, but Jha plans to launch the product on Kickstarter in 2020.