The Silicon Valley technology leader disrupted the flat panel display industry when it launched a breakthrough equipment solution to mass-produce flexible Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs). Flexible OLED technology gives limitless stretch to new product design innovation by liberating panel manufacturers from the constraints of glass substrates. It enables ultra-thin, feather-light displays that are bendable, roll-able, and even fold-able. Kateeva's solution, known as the YIELDjet™ platform, leverages inkjet printing with novel innovations to perform critical steps in the OLED manufacturing process. Today, YIELDjet tools are helping to accelerate the adoption of OLED technology - a trend that's taking the global display industry to exciting new heights.
The new Kateeva investors are: BOE, Cybernaut Venture, GP Capital Shanghai, Redview Capital, and TCL Capital, all located in China. They join existing investors that include: Samsung Venture Investment Corporation (SVIC), Sigma Partners, Spark Capital, Madrone Capital Partners, DBL Partners, New Science Ventures, and VEECO Instruments, Inc.
The company has raised $200 million since it was founded in 2008.
New Board seats will be filled by an executive from BOE, Redview Capital, and TCL Capital respectively.
The funds will accelerate new product development. The money will also help Kateeva expand manufacturing capacity at its Silicon Valley headquarters, where production systems are being built. In addition, the funds will strengthen Kateeva's customer satisfaction infrastructure in Asia, and support continued R&D.
The round closes as demand for flexible OLED displays soars. This year, the market for plastic and flexible OLED displays will reach $2.1 billion, says Guillaume Chansin, Ph.D., Senior Technology Analyst at research firm IDTechEx. By 2020, it will surpass $18 billion. While mobile phones and wearables are currently the two main applications, Chansin expects that the technology will be found in tablets and automotive in the coming years.
The market trajectory is due to the confluence of two trends: first, voracious demand for flexible devices made possible by the enabling advantages of OLED technology; and second, the introduction of manufacturing tools like Kateeva's YIELDjet platform that provided a pathway to cost-effective mass-production of flexible OLEDs for the first time.
Kateeva Chairman and CEO Alain Harrus, Ph.D. noted how OLED technology first transformed the viewing experience by giving spectacular color quality and brightness to rigid displays on mobile phones. "Now, it's giving extraordinary new shape, lightness and thinness to those products and others that have yet to be invented," he said. "Kateeva started enabling this 'freedom from glass' display innovation in 2008 when our founders began pioneering a superior mass-production equipment solution for OLEDs. Today, Kateeva tools are positioned in top OLED manufacturing fabs. Our investors were stalwart partners along the way. We're grateful for their support, and we welcome our new investors."
Flexible OLED is the first major application for Kateeva's YIELDjet platform, according to President and Co-Founder Conor Madigan, Ph.D. "Next up is OLED TV," he said. "Having mastered the technical challenges of mass-producing Thin Film Encapsulation (TFE) - the layer that gives thinness and flexibility to the OLED device, we're now applying YIELDjet technology to help display manufacturers mass-produce the OLED RGB layer, which enables OLED TVs. The new funds will accelerate new product development, and support ongoing R&D."
Source and top image: Kateeva