There’s been no shortage of investment in printed, flexible, and organic electronics aimed at driving next-generation displays, organic photovoltaics (OPV), transparent conductive films (TCFs), smart packaging, and thin-film batteries. Yet, challenged by the inherent technical hurdles and long development cycles, few firms have turned their potential into big cash returns. Those that eventually succeed will do so by building partnerships today that pool expertise in materials, equipment and device development.
This week’s graphic expressly focuses on display developers, and applies the Lux Innovation Grid to compare how potential partners compare in Technical Value and Business Execution. The field encompasses more mature technologies, like small molecule organic light-emitting diode (OLED) and electrophoretic displays, in addition to emerging technologies, including electrochromic and electrofluidic displays.
A glance at companies comprising the Dominant Quadrant clearly illustrates that OLED materials and equipment have a clear headstart over more emergent technologies like electrochromic and electrofluidic displays. OLED displays have found success thus far primarily in mobile displays, but development of larger displays like televisions is underway. Notable players include materials developers like Universal Display Corporation (UDC) and Novaled, in addition to equipment makers like Kateeva. These companies also comprise the majority of the “Positive” takes on the chart due to the strength of OLED technologies in general and the solutions that these companies can provide.
E Ink stands out for its Technical Value and Business Execution. The former derives from its high score in technology and intellectual property, the latter from its strong partnerships and management team. In addition, E Ink scores the only “Strong Positive” on our chart. This lofty position should not come as a surprise, since E Ink has a nearly 100% market share of the electrophoretic market, which is commonly found in e-readers like the Amazon Kindle.
Emerging reflective and flexible technologies are High-potential. Particularly for OLEDs, the transition to flexible displays requires new materials and substrates to protect the OLEDs from atmospheric contamination. New materials such as flexible glass from Corning Display or barrier films for plastic substrates from Tera-Barrier can enable flexible OLEDs.
Emerging reflective displays, like electrofluidic displays from Gamma Dynamics and cholesteric liquid crystal displays (LCDs) from Kent Displays, also fall into the High Potential category. Competing with electrophoretics will not be easy for the reflective technology developers, as both companies score above 3 on Technical Value, but below 3 on Business Execution – due to low scores on barriers to growth and revenue per employee.
Source: Lux Research report “Finding the Winning and Losing Companies in Printed, Flexible, and Organic Electronics.”