Among other European countries the UK provides the highest levels of support for R&D and pre-commercial work into flexible and printable electronics.
That is the conclusion from the UK government's Technology Strategy Board (TSB), which to date has invested £40 million (€46.9 million) into plastic electronics - a figure that has been matched by UK industry - across some 60 projects.
The funding was outlined by TSB lead technologist Myrddin Jones in his presentation to engineers and engineering students at the recent UK Plastic Electronics 2011 Show, part of the Advanced Engineering UK 2011 group of events in Birmingham on 9-10 November
Jones stated: 'The plan is to continue with investment in plastic electronics. We take the long-term view, where the kind of technologies we are looking to exploit are interesting, difficult and risky.'
The TSB has several types of grants available to support plastic electronics R&D and pre-commercial development in the UK, to benefit small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) by absorbing some of the risk involved in undertaking R&D and related activity into emerging technology fields. Depending on funding criteria the TSB is able to provide between 45-60% of project funding.
Upcoming competitions relevant to plastic electronics include a £17.75 million funding round for collaborative R&D projects in technology areas including advanced materials; biosciences; electronics, photonics and electrical systems; information and communications technology; and nanoscale technologies.
Proposals should be collaborative and led by a business. The TSB expects to invest £250,000-£500,000 in each project. The closing date for initial applications is 7 December 2011.
Another relevant competition is OLAE +, a transnational call for collaborative R&D proposals under the European Commission's ERA-NET Plus scheme, with total funding of up to €18.2 million.
The competition is open to participants from Austria, Catalonia, Flanders, Germany, Israel, Poland, Sweden and the UK (the participating countries and regions).
The TSB will contribute up to €4 million and the European Commission will provide additional support up to €2 million to co-fund participation by UK companies, the largest share of funding of any participating country.
Jones added at the UK Plastic Electronics Show: 'The whole gamut of plastic electronics technologies and applications are applicable. The key thing is that if you have a got a great idea you should apply. The support ratio is 50%.'
The closing date for the first stage of applications for OLAE + is 31 January 2012.
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Documents and links
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More information on the OLAE+ competition
Technology Strategy Board guide to OLAE+
Full information about the Organic Large-Area Electronics European competition for collaborative R&D funding
Precision polyamide film coating technology for plastic electronics
UK start-up Datum Developments has developed a coating technology for protecting conductive surfaces in plastic electronics, thin film and other miniaturised electronic devices
Technology Strategy Board
Website for the UK government agency