BASF Venture Capital has invested €1m in the technology company SmartKem, based in St. Asaph, Wales. The total investment of the financing round was €3m. Further investors with equal terms were Octopus Investments and Entrepreneurs Fund.
SmartKem is a leader in research and development of high performance organic semiconductor inks. These inks are used in printed thin film transistors (TFTs), which drive unbreakable and fully flexible electronics, for example leading-edge flexible OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) displays.
“The future belongs to flexible displays. First flexible smartphones are already in the market. Customers will benefit from a lot of useful lightweight, fully flexible and rollable electronics products based on organic TFTs. Our investment in SmartKem and our extensive Joint Development Program will take us a great step forward in bringing this future-oriented technology faster to the market,” said Dirk Nachtigal, Managing Director, BASF Venture Capital.
Steve Kelly, CEO of SmartKem, added, “Groundbreaking advances in material technology will drive the future of printed and flexible electronics. We are happy to join forces in research and development with BASF to progress smart chemistry for the new generation of flexible displays and circuits, which will address future market needs.”
Thin film transistors are part of the driver electronics in today’s displays. They have the function to switch pixels on and off. Established display technologies based on inorganic TFT materials (silicon or metal oxide systems) are processed on glass at high temperatures. When it comes to true flexibility, conventional TFT systems reach their boundaries. Organic thin film transistors are inherently much more flexible and can be processed on plastic films, since they are printable at low temperatures. Furthermore, printing TFTs has the potential to make the whole production process much more efficient, including possible cost reductions.