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Deal 5: Kristel Leif on Solaride's Solar-Powered Car Project in Estonia

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On November 18, 2020, CEE Legal Matters reported that Hedman Partners had agreed to serve as legal advisor to Solaride on its project to build a solar-powered car in Estonia. CEEIHM spoke with Kristel Leif, Chief Executive Officer at Solaride, to learn more about the matter.

CEEIHM: Please tell our readers about Solaride and its mission. 

Kristel: Solaride is a non-profit student project that is building Estonia’s first solar-powered car. First, we are aiming to race through the Australian desert in 2021 by taking part in the World Solar Challenge, where we will be competing with the world’s leading universities like Eindhoven University and MIT. 

Second, Estonia is one of the last countries in Europe in terms of its use of renewable energy sources in the transport sector, and we want to change that as we give a damn about nature and the future. Besides that, this project gives our students the chance to put their knowledge into use. Mainly engineering students can get practical skills by working side by side with our mentors from leading technology companies. This means we are creating talent as well – not only as a potentially more experienced workforce in the engineering field but also with students themselves feeling more confident about their own future as they will enter the labor market with considerable experience. Through this, we are hoping we will bring Estonia to the world map regarding improvement in the renewable energy industry. 

In conclusion, we are tackling the renewable energy field and the lack of an engineering workforce in Estonia. Looking at the progress so far, we are doing a great job of moving towards this larger goal. 

CEEIHM: The project has some ambitious goals. What is your projected timeline at this point? 

Kristel: At the moment we are making the last adjustments to the garage setting where we can finally start building the car. Right now, if everything goes according to plan, we can start testing the car on the road sometime in April. That suits us well as there will be enough sunshine in Estonia to actually carry out the test. We will use every minute to test in order to make the necessary corrections before heading off to Australia. 

CEEIHM: What is Hedman Partners' mandate? What type of legal assistance do you foresee you will require? 

Kristel: We are more than glad that Hedman Partners decided to team up with us. As a result of the intellectual activity and creative work of the project participants, the authors of a specific development or research work have exclusive rights (personal and property) to their work. This is where we realized that we need a legal adviser to help us deal with the questions, like what happens to the intellectual property of a participant in the Solaride project, who actually owns it, and how it is going to be used. We are quite sure that several startups may arise from this project in the near future and, in that case, we need some advice as well. 

In addition to intellectual property matters, Hedman Partners helps our organization in everyday corporate and commercial activities and helps to ensure that contracts with our partners are in order and confidentiality is maintained.

CEEIHM: Since Solaride is a non-profit, student-run project, can you provide any insight as to the arrangement – commercial or otherwise – you've reached with the firm for its support? 

Kristel: The firm is advising us on a pro bono basis. We deliver various marketing activities to our partners, as we have a very capable and ambitious PR & marketing team working every day to get us and the sponsors exposure in terms of marketing, fundraising, recruitment, etc. 

There is no doubt that our partner company logo will be visible to millions across the world. Did you know that the World Solar Challenge has over 15 million viewers across the world? We are focusing on the target groups, channels, and activities that are important to our partners and we want our partners to be real members of our team. 

Also, I would definitely like to bring out the fact that all the contracts are made by Hedman Partners so at least all our supporters will see and hear their name a lot. 

CEEIHM: Last, but definitely not least, why was Hedman Partners the firm of choice for you? 

Kristel: Hedman Partners is known as one of the leading law firms specializing in intellectual property, corporate matters, and startups working closely with entrepreneurs and investors within the technology sector. Although Solaride is a student project it is considered to be a startup as well and that’s our common ground with them. I think it’s a positive mark that Hedman Partners sees a lot of potential in this project and wants to contribute with its legal know-how.

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