Report: “Glaring imbalances” in printed electronics venture funding

January 17, 2013 – Printed, flexible, and organic electronics have garnered more than $7.5 billion in venture funding from 1996-2011, but funding has declined sharply from a peak in 2007, according to a report from Lux Research. Funding topped $990M in 2007, but lost a third of that value within four years to $626M in 2011.

"A number of high-profile failures like Konarka have soured many investors’ impressions of this space — cutting away some unwarranted hype, but potentially raising the hurdles for companies with more promising technologies to secure funds," stated Anthony Vicari, Lux Research associate and lead author of a new report examining investments and opportunities in printed, flexible, and organic electronics. He points to "glaring funding imbalances, with overfunding in areas such as organic photovoltaics, but promising technologies such as electrowetting and electrochromic displays haven’t received investment that matches their potential."

Lux will present a Webinar on Feb. 5 to discuss the report’s findings, but here’s some insights in a nutshell:

Display technologies have huge potential. Electrowetting, electrochromic, and metal oxide thin-film transistors (MOTFTs) are potential gold mines, offering high technical performance and value relative to competing reflective displays and TFTs.

Asian startups are underfunded. North America leads overall investment at $5.1B, or 67% of the world total. However, Asian start-ups, like OLED developers in South Korea, account for just $506M of investing. That indicates not a lack of innovation, but the need for an alternate funding model, Lux says.

Dow, Samsung, and Intel are trendsetters. These three giants lead corporate venture capital (CVC) investors, with high levels of activity in this space. Their best bets have targeted the more promising, higher-potential technologies such as OLEDs and RFID.


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