SmartKem rakes in Series A funds

SmartKem has secured “significant” Series A funding. The investors were BASF Venture Capital, Octopus Investments, Entrepreneurs Fund and Finance Wales. Based in the UK, SmartKem is a provider of semiconductor materials.

PRESS RELEASE

Manchester and Wales, UK, (12 August, 2014). 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-FLEXTM 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 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 , 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 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 is now established as a key enabler for the next generation of flexible display and electronics based products.

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.”

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 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.

About SmartKem
SmartKem is a leading supplier of high performance flexible organic semiconductor materials that can be solution processed onto lightweight, low cost polymer films to deliver flexible circuits and transistors. SmartKem’s core offering responds to the demand for low cost, low energy, lightweight, rugged electronics that can be manufactured at room temperature by a range of manufacturing methods and ultimately by roll to roll printing. SmartKem has an unrivalled pipeline of new materials ready for exploitation via chosen business partners and a business model that focuses on delivering expertise in molecular design, synthesis, application engineering and technology transfer to our customers. SmartKem was a recent winner of the Printed Electronics Asia Award for Best Advanced Material Development 2013.

About BASF Venture Capital
BASF Venture Capital GmbH was established in 2001 as a wholly owned subsidiary of BASF New Business GmbH, Ludwigshafen, Germany, with the aim of exploring new growth potentials based on investment in startup companies and funds. More information is available at www.basf-vc.com

About BASF
BASF is the world’s leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products and crop protection products to oil and gas. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. Through science and innovation, we enable our customers in nearly every industry to meet the current and future needs of society. Our products and solutions contribute to conserving resources, ensuring nutrition and improving quality of life. We have summed up this contribution in our corporate purpose: We create chemistry for a sustainable future. BASF had sales of about €74 billion in 2013 and over 112,000 employees as of the end of the year. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (AN). Further information on BASF is available on the Internet at www.basf.com.

About Finance Wales
Finance Wales was established by the Welsh Government in 2001 and provides commercial funding to small and medium-sized businesses throughout Wales to enable them to realise their potential for innovation and growth.

The company is part of the Finance Wales Group and in 2013 -14 Finance Wales invested over £31 million through 201 debt and equity investments in growing Welsh businesses. £8 million was invested in 21 technology ventures and 4 young technology businesses moved to Wales for investment from Finance Wales.
Finance Wales manages a range of funds in Wales including the recently launched £7.5 million Wales Technology Seed Fund – The five-year Fund is aimed at technology start-ups, university spin-outs and IP-rich companies to help them commercialise their innovative products and technologies and bring them to market.
The Finance Wales Group one of the UK’s largest SME investors which has invested over £340 million through more than 3,380 investments and manages funds in excess of £400 million.

About Entrepreneurs Fund:
Entrepreneurs Fund (www.entrepreneursfund.com) is the venture capital member of the COFRA Group, a global, family-controlled group of businesses. Entrepreneurs Fund is currently investing from its second €100 million fund, which is targeted at early stage and growth companies owning strong technology/IP, with a focus on Europe. Sectors of interest include life sciences, materials, clean tech and (on-line) retail related technology. Entrepreneurs Fund is an active investor working closely with outstanding management teams in developing their businesses.

About Octopus
Octopus is a venture capital investor who backs talented people with the potential to build big businesses. Our focus is on identifying entrepreneurs and fast growth companies that can scale explosively to create, transform or dominate an industry. The Ventures team has a proven track record of helping build exceptional global businesses, including Zoopla Property Group, Secret Escapes, SwiftKey, graze.com and YPlan. Octopus works in close partnership with entrepreneurs, adding real value to the portfolio beyond financial investment. The team’s work is supported by access to the Octopus Venture Partners, a network of approximately 100 outstanding business leaders and entrepreneurs who provide an invaluable wealth of expertise and resource for our portfolio companies. The Ventures team is part of Octopus Investments, one of the UK’s fastest growing investment management companies specialising in smaller company investing, with more than £3.5 billion of assets under management.

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