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Don't miss the chance

Plastic electronics solutions need to be brought to market before the initiative is lost.

Companies such as ARM, CSR, picoChip and Icera hold leading positions in their chosen markets, but companies such as these are few and far between in the UK, unfortunately.

However, the UK is a leader when it comes to plastic electronics; the use of organic materials and appropriate substrates to make electronics enabled products. One of the pioneers in the field is Professor Richard Friend, who established Cambridge Display Technology and Plastic Logic.

The UK's apparent pre eminence led the last Government to create a strategy designed to enable the plastic electronics sector to grow a 'vibrant mix of SMEs, larger indigenous companies and global systems businesses'. The reason? Plastic electronics is predicted to be a market worth $120billion a year by the end of this decade.

But delivering on this strategy isn't easy. Firstly, the strategy has a three year span and delivering successful industries takes longer than that. And, because plastic electronics is more likely to be selected by industrial designers, rather than technologists, the industry needs to be solutions focused. The problem is it that, while the plastic electronics community has developed technology, not many solutions have yet been developed.

While the plastic electronics community hasn't sat on its hands for the last year, there is a suspicion that companies are continuing to refine their technology, rather than get it designed into applications.
If the UK is to be a plastic electronics powerhouse, the technology needs to get out of the lab and into applications before other countries overtake and we look back in the future and say 'if only …'.

Graham Pitcher

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