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Business briefs

19 Jan 2009

Featuring news from Displaybank, e2v, FLIR, Novaled and more.

• The current shortage of polysilicon for solar-cell applications will become a severe oversupply by 2010, according to a new report. A solar-cell market growing at 40% annually and the high profitability of the polysilicon business has led to many companies announcing plans to enter the sector, but the estimated 15 GW (around 108,000 tons) of solar-cell polysilicon available will exceed the demand of 11 GW predicted for 2010. However, the global recession may make this oversupply a short-term effect if existing polysilicon suppliers reduce their utilization rates, according to Solar Cell Polysilicon Ingot and Wafer Technology and Market Trends from Displaybank.

The Open University and e2v, a UK-based developer of specialized components and sub-systems, have announced a collaboration to open the e2v Centre for Electronic Imaging (CEI) at The Open University's Milton Keynes, UK, campus. The centre will be dedicated to the research and development of advanced technologies for electronic image sensing, and provide knowledge exchange between the UK technology industry and academia. An investment of £3 million ($4.4 million) will be made in the CEI, which will focus on the development of technology opportunities in space and terrestrial imaging, with plans to extend into health and environmental applications.

FLIR has signed a co-operation agreement with Trijicon and received a $12.6 million order from the company for a new integrated clip-on thermal weapon sight. The Advanced Thermal Weapon Sight (ATWS) was developed in a collaboration leveraging Trijicon's expertise in weapon sights and FLIR's expertise in infrared imaging systems and sighting sensors. The ATWS utilizes FLIR's 640 x 480 uncooled vanadium oxide infrared microbolometers, and was commercially developed to military specifications. It will be manufactured by FLIR and distributed worldwide by Trijicon.

Novaled, a developer of OLEDs for lighting and display products, closed its third round of financing having raised €8.5 million ($11.2 million), exclusively provided by existing shareholders of the company. Participants in this round were eCAPITAL, TechnoStart, KfW and TUDAG, all from Germany, as well as Credit Agricole Private Equity, TechFund and CDC Innovation from France. Novaled will use the proceeds of this financing round to extend the commercialization of its energy-saving Novaled PIN OLED technology.

Firecomms, a provider of high-speed plastic optical fibre (POF) components, has closed a $5 million funding round that includes a significant investment from Switzerland-based telecom provider Swisscom. Already an adopter of Firecomms' IPTV interconnect technology, Swisscom has first-hand experience with the advantages of POF in the home, according to Firecomms. Other investors in the latest funding round are Alps Electric of Japan, a major customer for Firecomms' automotive transceiver products; London-based GP Bullhound Sidecar; and Firecomms' existing venture capital investors Atlantic Bridge, ACT Venture Finance, and Enterprise Ireland.

Abbott, a healthcare company headquartered in the US, has acquired Advanced Medical Optics (AMO) in a deal valued at approximately $2.8 billion. AMO is active in laser-vision correction, cataract surgery and eye-care products. Abbott's global reach will enhance AMO's presence at a time when advances in refractive surgery technologies, including LASIK, and an aging global population, mean that the business is poised for long-term growth, according to a joint statement.

Pacer International, a supplier of optoelectronics products and information displays, has opened a new sales office in Cork, Ireland. The move is intended to reinforce Pacer's position in the territory, and the company intends to strengthen the already successful business partnership with TT Optek in the region, according to a statement. The new office will be headed by Rory O'Connor.

• In co-operation with Sweden's Halmstad University and the steel manufacturer Uddeholm Tooling, the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology is planning a new initiative on polishing. The aim is to encourage the exchange of experiences between research institutions and industry, and so assist the definition of surface quality standards. Topics to be investigated will include the testing of new measuring systems, including optical-based technologies, and the improvement of polishing techniques. Interested companies and scientists who are involved in steel polishing are welcome to join in the discussion via the institute's website.

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