Russia invests $700m in UK plastic electronics firm

Posted on 19 Jan 2011 by The Manufacturer

Electronics company Plastic Logic, a Cambridge University spin-out, is set to receive up to $700 million in a deal with Rusnano, Russia’s state-backed nanotechnology corporation.

As reported in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and confirmed on Plastic Logic’s website, Rusano has finalised a deal that will see the Russian government get a stake of about 25% in the UK company.

Plastic Logic, a global market leader in plastic electronics, has received an initial investment package of $300m. It is understood that Rusnano, the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies, is providing an initial investment of $150m as an equity stake in Plastic Logic and will provide further partial guarantees for a further $100m of debt. This tranche will help finance the construction of a plastic electronics fabrication plant in Zelenograd, outside Moscow.

Venture capital firm Oak Investment Partners, Plastic Logic’s lead investor, is investing an additional $50m as part of the project investment plan.

At the launch of the Global Manufacturing Festival: Sheffield in London yesterday, manufacturing editor of the Financial Times Peter Marsh, who broke the story, asked the business minister Mark Prisk if he thought the Russian investment was a missed opportunity for British industry.

Mr Prink said: “This is just one opportunity. It is perhaps disappointing that a UK entity has not backed the venture, but there are many other opportunities in to commercialise good ideas that we aim to help British companies capitalise on.”
In the FT article, the science minister David Willets told Mr Marsh that there was “no way” any UK government agency would invest $650m (the figure known at the time) into a technology company to help its expansion.

Plastic Logic was co-founded as a spin-out from Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University by Professor Sir Richard Friend and colleagues in 2000. Its approach to electronics solves a problem in manufacturing high resolution transistor arrays on flexible plastic substrates by using a low temperature process without mask alignment.

The company says its process simplifies the conventional amorphous silicon processes, using a novel mix of standard production equipment from display manufacturing and other industries.