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OLED receives funds to speed products to market

Rochester Business Journal
July 4, 2014

A Rochester firm that uses technology developed by scientists at Eastman Kodak Co. has been awarded some $2 million in federal funds to accelerate the commercialization of high-performance light emitting diode products.

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Perinton, announced the funding for OLEDWorks LLC at its Lyell Avenue operation Wednesday afternoon.

“OLED technology was invented in Rochester, and (this) investment in OLEDWorks shows our region is still leading the way in reducing energy costs through this homegrown industry,” Slaughter said, in a statement.

OLEDWorks is one of nine firms across the state that received the Department of Energy funding. The agency awarded nearly $10.5 million, for a total public-private investment with the selected firms of more than $13.7 million. The amount of money OLEDWorks is investing was not disclosed.

The goal of the funding is to help OLEDWorks reduce the high costs of manufacturing OLED lighting, paving the way for affordable products to help grow the emerging OLED market. Proponents of OLED lighting believe it can reduce energy costs and grow high-tech manufacturing jobs in the U.S.

OLED technology uses thin layers of organic material applied to a substrate such as glass. When stimulated by an electrical charge, the material produces light.

Kodak scientists discovered organic materials with light-emitting properties in 1979 and received the first OLED patent in 1987. Like LEDs, OLEDs are about 10 times more energy efficient than conventional incandescent lighting and can last more than 25 times longer. 

The lighting is expanding into the health care market. The OLED amber spectrum has no blue light, which has been shown to improve sleep patterns for hospital patients and the elderly. 

OLEDWorks manufactures OLED panels and supplies them to luminaire makers, which integrate them into lighting fixtures. The firm also has received interest from the transportation industry, lighting designers, and furniture and appliance makers.

The company was founded in 2010 by two former Kodak employees, Michael Boroson and John Hamer, who together hold more than 50 U.S. patents, and Rochester businessman David DeJoy.

The firm employs 20 full-time staffers and two full-time contractors. The business also has five engineering students from the Rochester Institute of Technology co-op program each semester.

DeJoy said the grant announced by Slaughter will help the firm make OLED lighting more accessible and lead to reduced national energy consumption.

OLEDWorks has a patent licensing agreement with Global OLED Technology LLC, the company formed to license the former Kodak OLED patent portfolio. Under the terms, OLEDWorks is granted the right to use certain patents to make lighting-related products.

In 2009, Kodak agreed to sell assets of its OLED group to Global OLED Technology, an entity established by LG Electronics Inc., LG Display Co. Ltd. and LG Chem Ltd. The sale, part of a $514 million deal involving a technology cross-licensing pact and an agreement to terminate patent infringement litigation, placed the value of the OLED sale at $100 million, a Securities and Exchange Commission filing shows.

7/4/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.



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