TSB makes £8m available to fund plastic electronics projects

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The Technology Strategy Board is making up to £8million available to support the Government's plastic electronics strategy.

Announcing two programmes, chief executive Iain Gray (pictured) said the importance of plastic electronics had been clear since 2004. "Since then, we have invested £38million, matched by £27m from industry. We're hoping to build the UK's presence in an emerging industry. The market for plastic electronics will be massive and the key thing is to work out how the UK can create wealth from its technology leadership." According to Gray, more than 140 organisations are actively involved in the UK's plastic electronics sector, with 100 of those involved in TSB projects. "Plastic electronics has such potential," Gray continued, "that it will become a mainstream technology." Gray believes plastic electronics will bring major benefits compared to silicon in terms of energy and resource consumption. "For example, organic photovoltaics can make a major contribution to the reduction of carbon emissions." The aim of the two programmes is to get companies working together. "No one organisation can do it alone," he continued, "so partnerships are essential. Only through collaboration can these opportunities be addressed." The first programme is designed to help companies move more quickly towards large scale take up of the technology. "We'll be holding a demonstrator workshop in March," Gray stated, "with up to £3m available. The key target is to demonstrate the benefits of plastic electronics. We'll be looking to find projects with real commercial value that will act as showcases across a range of sectors." The workshop aims to bring together around 40 people – some of whom who may be new to the field – to develop collaborative demonstrator projects. The second programme carries a budget of up to £5m and is intended to fund collaborative R&D in plastic electronics. "Technology has to be developed," said Gray, "in conjunction with end users. We'll also be looking for proposals that include significant advances in technology. Companies will have to move fast to take part, but getting good companies and great ideas will have dramatic results." Proposals for this competition must address one or more of the following: development of production equipment and processes; innovations in test and measurement; the development of new devices, materials, architectures, circuits or modelling tools; or improvements in barrier performance to manufacture. The competition for workshop participants is now open and applications must be submitted by 28 January 2010. Successful applicants will be informed on 11 February 2010 and the workshop will take place in London from 1 to 3 March 2010. Meanwhile, the competition for collaborative funding opens on 18 January 2010 and interested parties must make what the TSB calls an 'expression of interest' by 25 February 2010. Final applications must be received by 29 April 2010.