Corporate and VC funding deal for flexible display business SmartKem

North Wales-based SmartKem has closed a Series A transaction involving a syndicate of venture capital, corporate and regional backers.

Octopus Investments has joined a ‘significant’ growth capital commitment into semiconductor materials business SmartKem.

The venture capital investor joins BASF Venture Capital, Entrepreneurs Fund and Finance Wales in the deal.

Technology business SmartKem has developed a flexible semiconductor product that provides a way for display and electronics manufacturers to achieve thin-film-transistor (TFT) applications for smartphones, tablets and wearables. Used to create bendable and foldable surfaces, SmartKem’s tru-FLEX technology is currently being used by manufacturers in Asia.

According to a statement, the new investment builds on the £3 million Finance Wales has injected to date and will fund further development of tru-FLEX and its commercialisation.

SmartKem CEO Steve Kelly says, ‘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 (JDAs) that require support to ensure the commercialisation of our revolutionary semiconductors.’

Coming in as an investor is BASF Venture Capital, the investment arm of chemical company BASF. Founded in 2001 and based in Germany, the corporate venture capital division invests in start-up companies and funds.

Kelly adds that the market for printed, flexible and organic electronics is expected to grow to $77 billion by 2023, with the company’s tru-FLEX offering well placed to ‘satisfy’ the growing market demand.

SmartKem will now begin a period of development to achieve ‘market-readiness’ and look to build current and future partner programmes.

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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Series A