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New association stakes Canada’s claim in printable electronics


The Canadian Printable Electronics Industry Association (CPEIA) has officially launched with the goal of becoming a united voice representing of this country’s printable electronics (PE) sector.

Consultations with key stakeholders in industry, government and academia revealed that current R&D and commercialization efforts alone are not sufficient to create a strong Canadian PE sector. Several areas were identified where an industry association can significantly enhance the growth of PE in Canada.

The CPEIA’s mandate is to bring together key Canadian and international players in industry, academia and government, to build a strong domestic PE sector, according to the newly appointed executive director Peter Kallai. The Association, which commenced operations recently, will implement critical development strategies to facilitate growth through networking, stimulate R&D and investment, build a strong PE supply chain and drive the broad adoption of PE by end customers

Close to 50 Canadian companies presently have a business interest in PE. Three years ago, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) stepped up to drive the growth of the domestic sector by creating its PE Flagship research program. It also led the creation of the PE Consortium with 14 industry partners. The CPEIA is the next logical step in the evolution of PE in Canada.

The CPEIA is joining and promoting a delegation of Canadian companies with the NRC that will be exhibiting at Printed Electronics USA 2014. This conference, the largest of its kind dedicated to PE, runs November 19 and 20 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California.

Become a Member of the CPEIA

The CPEIA is actively recruiting members, which is any individual or organization with a vested interest in PE, who might be willing to participate in the growth of the emerging sector. This includes end-customers and end-users of PE applications, startups and SMEs, university and government research labs, systems integrators and OEMs, and venture capitalists and angel groups. Membership is open to Canadian and international organizations.

“A few years ago, many PE applications would have been considered science fiction,” says Kallai. “But not anymore, as government organizations, startups, OEMs and systems integrators around the world are investing billions of dollars in R&D to revolutionize existing products and create new ones with PE. It’s time for Canada to step up and stake its claim in this exciting emerging market.”

Kallai is a senior high-tech executive and management consultant who has worked with more than 100 government organizations and growth-stage companies across Canada and served on various boards. As VP of strategic analysis & global marketing, he helped a TSX-listed global communications company grow from $3.2-million to $100+ million in revenues, and to 350 staff.

Canada’s Printable Electronics opportunity

PE combines new materials with cost effective, large area production processes that open up new fields of application. Conventional printing processes, such as screen-printing, flexography, gravure and inkjet, are used to deposit conductive inks onto a variety of flexible substrates, such as plastics, papers and fabrics. The goal is a whole new world of electronics that are low cost and consume little power. They can be disposable, biodegradable, flexible and even stretchable.

PE lies at the convergence of several industries in which Canada has a strong track record – advanced materials, micro-electronics, information and communications technologies, printing and advanced manufacturing. According to research firm IDTechEx, the global market for printed and potentially printable electronics will rise from about US$24 billion in 2014 to $340 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate of 40 per cent.

Consider PE product applications:

* A sheet of paper that displays video and plays audio.

* Biometrics to monitor your health, built into a shirt or even a disposable band-aid.

* Smart labels on packaging that react to environmental changes.

* Low-cost RFID (radio-frequency identification) transponders.

* Displays that are flexible and even rollable.

* Flexible solar cells that can be incorporated into fabrics.

* Batteries that can be printed.

Some PE components are already around us. These include the biosensors in the disposable glucose test strips used by diabetes patients, embedded antennas for mobile devices and touch displays.