Finance Wales Investment to help fund full commercialisation of organic semiconductor technology to enable truly flexible displays and electronics

SmartKem, the leading developer of high performance, organic semiconductor materials for truly flexible displays and electronics, has announced the completion of a significant series A funding round from an investment syndicate comprising BASF Venture Capital, Octopus Investments and Entrepreneurs Fund, plus further investment from Finance Wales, the company’s principal shareholder. The investment will build on the £3m of investment from Finance Wales to date and will be used to further develop the leading scientific foundation of the SmartKem tru-FLEX‚Ñ¢ organic semiconductor material range, and to accelerate this technology towards full commercialisation.

The investment will provide SmartKem with the ability to further develop its tru-FLEX‚Ñ¢ semiconductor technology to the point of market-readiness. It will also contribute to the scale-up and support of current and future partner programmes which are key to the technology’s commercialisation.

SmartKem’s tru-FLEX‚Ñ¢, a truly flexible semiconductor technology, has been developed to allow display and electronics manufacturers to obtain industry grade thin-film-transistor (TFT) performance with leading physical flexibility, enabling bendable and foldable mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets as well as wearable display based applications. SmartKem’s award winning tru-FLEX‚Ñ¢ is now recognised as an industry leading semiconductor for flexible TFT manufacture for displays and electronics on the market. SmartKem is firmly embedded in the display supply chain across Asia, with a number of JDA’s, and key partnerships. SmartKem’s tru-FLEX‚Ñ¢ is now established as a key enabler for the next generation of flexible display and electronics based products.

Richard Hadden, Investment Executive in Finance Wales’ technology ventures team said: “Finance Wales has invested in SmartKem since its start up in North Wales in May 2009. With our long-term backing Steve and his team have developed the company’s exciting tru-FLEX‚Ñ¢ technology which has demonstrated significant market potential. Securing this latest investment is a major achievement by the company and we’re pleased to join forces with the new syndicate of investors to provide Smartkem with the capital it needs to fully exploit the commercial potential of tru-FLEX.”

Steve Kelly, CEO at SmartKem, said: “The market now recognises that SmartKem’s tru-FLEX‚Ñ¢ provides manufacturers with truly flexible TFTs with high physical and electrical stability coupled with best-in-class charge carrier mobility. Our low temperature semiconductor process allows unrivalled design freedom in choice of barrier layers and substrates for highly flexible transistor backplane manufacture. This key ability to process at low temperature offers manufacturers a “cost-down” proposition whilst opening the door to the use of printing processes such as ink-jet or roll-to-roll technology. This has the potential to disrupt production costs for OEMs whilst simplifying the whole manufacturing process.”

He continued: “With the current traction in the markets for new form factor mobile displays and wearable technology, the timing of the latest round of investment is ideal. We have a number of high value joint development agreements (JDA’s) that require support to ensure the commercialisation of our revolutionary semiconductors. With the market for printed, flexible and organic electronics set to grow to around $77 billion by 2023, we are now well positioned to fully commercialise tru-FLEX‚Ñ¢ and to satisfy the growing market demand.”

SmartKem’s portfolio of high performance materials are designed, synthesised, formulated and validated in TFT form in-house to offer partners ease of processing with a variety of print techniques and excellent performance in transistor form for product applications. The organic semiconductor range is complimented by leading on-site engineering support in technology transfer to OEMs with customised solutions.

For further information on SmartKem and their range of organic semiconductors for flexible electronic applications, please visit www.smartkem.com

By UKBAA 13 Aug 2014