UK organic LED company rationalises, cuts jobs

by Guy Kewney | posted on 04 July 2003

Mobile device makers are all hoping for something which will reduce the power drain caused by colour displays; in the UK, the leading research project is carried by Cambridge Display Technology - which has now had to cut back "to enhance operational effectiveness."

Guy Kewney

The light emitting polymer (LEP) and dendrimer technology which CDT is developing, has the potential to hugely reduce the amount of battery discharge required for luminous colour displays on PDAs and phones. CDT says it is still on course, but has announced "a reorganisation to increase its focus on the key success factors for its business" - closing a couple of sites, and cutting the number of staff.

Chief executive David Fyfe told NewsWireless.Net that the main reason for closing the factory, was that the market had moved on. "We're taking the resources that were going to be used making small volumes of stuff for commercial sales, because we couldn't avoid losing money doing that. It's a big volume game these days."

The first change arises from its success, and involves closing a factory of a company it took over last September. Opsys Ltd was an Oxford-based developer of high-efficiency, next generation LEP materials - light emitting dendrimers.

"Our main purpose for that unit was process development. The combination of the two chemistry groups - closing Oxford and combining it with those here, will give us more horse-power in that area," said Fyfe.

CDT sees no useful reason to do similar work in both Oxford and Cambridge, and so "key scientists" from Oxford will be moved to Cambridge "as part of a new High Efficiency Materials research group," and the rest of the staff will leave.

Dr Scott Brown, CDT's Research and Development Director issued a statement: "This consolidation of resources under one roof will greatly enhance the synergies between the technologies being developed in parallel at Oxford and Cambridge, as well as result in greater operational effectiveness."

Similarly, larger scale light-emitting polymer work at CDT's Godmanchester-based manufacturing development centre duplicates work done in laboratories at Madingley Road, Cambridge, some 15 miles away. For "operational effectiveness," process development activities in Cambridge will be moved to Godmanchester which has state-of-the-art cleanroom facilities.

"Part of this move will enable the consolidation of the inkjet printing activities, the key technology being developed for manufacture of full colour LEP displays," said the official announcement. Fyfe added that it would in no way mean that they were cutting back in development work.

According to Electronics Weekly, the changes will mean job reductions - 30 staff, the paper reports this week. There's no suggestion, however, that this means delays to the technology. Fyfe said: "Quite the opposite, this means that we can develop improvements for our customers."

To date, CDT technology has been widely sold: manufacturing licences have been granted to Delta Optoelectronics, DuPont Displays, DNP, MicroEmissive Displays, OSRAM, Philips, and Seiko-Epson.

For more information please visit Cambridge Display's web site.

You can discuss this article on our discussion board.