Startup raises funds for organic semiconductors

August 14, 2014 // By Paul Buckley
Welsh startup SmartKem has completed its series A funding round with investment from a 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 scientific foundation of the SmartKem tru-FLEX organic semiconductor material range, and to accelerate the technology towards full commercialisation.  The company has developed scientific expertise to deliver high performance molecules and formulated inks into market-driven applications such as the e-paper, OLED and HD LCD display industry.

The investment will provide SmartKem with the ability to further develop the company's tru-FLEX semiconductor technology to the point of market-readiness. The funding 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 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.

Steve Kelly, CEO at SmartKem, said: “The market now recognises that SmartKem’s tru-FLEX 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.”

“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 (JDAs) 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