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UK Boosts Plastic Electronics

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LONDON, Dec. 8, 2009 – A new £28 million (about $45.5 million) government strategy was launched yesterday to ensure that the UK remains a global leader in the high-growth and environmentally friendly plastic electronics industry.

Plastic electronics technology allows circuits to be printed onto any surface and over large areas and, as a low-cost alternative to conventional silicon-based electronics, will lead to the creation of new generations of products, including smart systems that integrate components such as sensors, batteries and displays.

Officials cited statistics showing that, while the global market for plastic electronics is less than $2 billion now, it is forecast to grow to as much as $330 billion by 2027 and create up to 20,000 jobs in the UK. The largest growth in the sector is predicted to take place in the markets for rollable electronic display screens, ultraefficient lighting and low-cost, long-life solar cells.

UK Business Secretary Lord Peter Mandelson during the launch of the Plastic Electronics Strategy at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London Monday. Mandelson is with Una, who is wearing an organic LED (OLED) dress made by Polyphotonix and designed by Gareth Pugh. (Photo: Department of Business, Innovation & Skills)

Launching “The Plastic Electronics Strategy for Success: Realising the UK Potential” at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London was Business Secretary Lord Peter Mandelson. The plan calls for government action to help industry champion the needs of the plastic electronics industry and drive innovation, through actions such as establishing a Plastic Electronics Leadership Group (PELG) to champion the sector, raise its profile, and improve coordination within the industry and research institutions. (Download the entire “Plastic Electronics Strategy for Success: Realising the UK Potential” plan here).

“Plastic Electronics technology has the capacity to revolutionize the way we do things and shake up whole industries. And it’s a sector where Britain has huge potential for leadership, employment and growth,” Mandelson said. “The UK is already a global leader in the sector thanks to our world-class science base and our strengths in research, creativity and innovation. We now need a road map for the industry that takes it from cutting edge to mass market while keeping Britain firmly in front.”

The £20 million (about $32.5 million) expansion of the Printable Electronic Technology Centre (PETEC) in Sedgefield announced in July 2009 will also significantly boost product plastic electronics development facilities and create 1500 jobs over the next four years, officials said.

The government also announced yesterday that the first stage in the center’s expansion will be the development of production facilities for prototype flexible lighting panels and low-cost, long-life solar cells, planned to be operational by September 2010. Following that, a manufacturing line for plastic electronics displays and integrated smart systems will be installed in the center in early 2011.

In addition, the Technology Strategy Board is investing £8 million in initiatives to help the industry work collaboratively to develop new manufacturing processes and innovative products.

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Dec 2009
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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