Printable electronics firm expands at Hexagon Tower

Disruptive technology company SmartKem doubles size of its base.

A company leading the way in printable semiconductors for the manufacture of flexible mobile displays and electronics has doubled the size of its Manchester base as it looks to bring its products to market and further develop its disruptive technology.

The expansion of SmartKem’s laboratories at Hexagon Tower in Blackley, north Manchester, follows €3 million of investment from BASF Venture Capital, Octopus Investments and Entrepreneurs Fund, as well as further funding from Finance Wales, the company’s principal shareholder.

SmartKem will use the new labs at Hexagon Tower to manufacture its tru-FLEXTM organic semiconductor material.

The material is designed to allow the print production of flexible transistors to drive displays on flexible materials and heralds a new age of unbreakable and foldable displays for any application such as wearables technology, mobile and static displays.

Steve Kelly, Chief Executive of SmartKem, said: “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 that require support to ensure the commercialisation of our ground-breaking semiconductors. With the market for printed, flexible and organic electronics set to grow to around $77 billion by 2023, we are now well positioned to fully commercialise tru-FLEX™ and to satisfy the growing market demand.”

As well as investing in further space at the science park, SmartKem has taken on new staff as it looks to accelerate the commercialisation of its unique technology, which is now recognised as a key enabling technology for the realisation of bendable and foldable displays and electronics.

Hexagon Tower is a specialist biotech and chemical research facility in Manchester. A former ICI research, development and production centre, the facility has fostered innovation since before the industrial revolution. With connections to prominent academic and scientific research hubs throughout the North West, the facility is part of the BEST Network –the largest privately-owned network of science parks in the UK.

SmartKem’s expansion showcases the science park’s ability to allow tenants to grow organically; space can be extended flexibly whilst the company is assured that it does not have to grow too quickly or forced to move spaces. The science park also features technical engineering and laboratory support for any specialist equipment that is required.

Stewart Needham, Site Facilities Manager at Hexagon Tower, said: “The expansion of SmartKem’s laboratory is testament to the internationally-renowned, innovative technology it produces at Hexagon Tower.

“The company is not only leading the way in disruptive printable technology, it is also employing local people. The Manchester science industry is flourishing and this expansion is an indication of the state of the sector as a whole.

“Companies across the city are innovating for the future and designing products that will change the way we live our lives.”

The Business Environments for Science and Technology (BEST) Network is assembled and managed by LaSalle Investment Management, it includes both well-established science and technology parks, as well as those undergoing investment to attract high technology activities.

The network aims to build its national and worldwide reputation, ensuring recognition from international science-based companies and academic institutions.

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