MUNICH, Germany Almost unnoticed a company that was developing printed and organic electronics has ceased trading. While the reasons for closure are unclear, industry pundits are insisting that despite Nanoident's fate, the sector is in good shape.
Nanoident AG (Linz, Austria) was the first company to run a commercial fab for sensors and circuitry made of organic materials.
With a series of technical and commercial announcements, Nanoident had fed hopes that organic electronics and print-based manufacturing processes could originate not only a viable business model but an entire new branch of the electronics industry. For instance, company had announced it had obtained the ISO 9001:2000 certification, it had claimed size records for the phototedector arrays it had designed and perhaps produced and it had announced to attract several customers such as the DARPA and investors including Turkish MV Holding.
So much the surprising it was to learn that the company has been insolvent already by October past year. The reason why the company failed is unclear. While some insiders who asked for anonymity say Nanoident was unable to deliver on its technological promises and the manufacturing site it ran was far from commercial production status, no tangible facts as to products, customers, and financial situation are available. On the website of the investor announced most recently, MV Holding, there is still the announcement posted that Nanoident has succeeded to receive funding from that company. However, MV Holding did not react on an EE Times Europe inquiry by the time this article was posted.
Industry watchers agree that Nanoident's insolvency does not mean the concept of printed electronics has failed. "We continue to develop our technology," said a spokesperson of PolyIC GmbH (Fuerth, Germany). PolyIC and Nanoident are active in different markets, using different technologies, the spokesperson said. "Nanoident had announced to produce large-area sensors, but we are in the RFID business", she said. "One insolvency does not put in question the entire industry."
Klaus Hecker, General Manager of the Organic Electronics Association (Frankfurt, Germany) of which Nanoident was a member company also said he does not regard the insolvency as a writing on the wall for the industry. "It depends so much on the individual business model, market situation and customer structure that we don't think this insolvency is a test case for organic electronics," he said and pointed out that from his perspective the industry is continuing its rapid growth. "Nanoident certainly enjoyed a high visibility," he said. "But was it exemplary for the industry? I don't think so." He added that the inkjet production process propagated by Nanoident today is standard in the industry.
Peter Harrop, chairman of consultancy IDTechEx Ltd. (Cambridge, UK), expressed a similar opinion. "Nanoident's fate is by no means an indicator that the industry is in trouble," he said. "Quite the contrary this industry is moving forward very fast". He pointed out that the 'new electronics industry', how he prefers to call this segment, continues to attract large investments. For instance, polymer photovoltaics manufacturer Konarka has received $35 million recently, and e-display company Plastic Logic Ltd already has raised funding exceeding $100 million. "Finance is not drying up for this new electronics, despite the financial crisis," Harrop said. "The industry is on a good way."