Is Europe Losing the Race?
Overall, Europe may be losing the race for the huge new business of printed electronics and the rejuvenation of society that it will bring. This is despite having far more academic institutions than East Asia working on the subject, the number being somewhat ahead of North America as well. That is a possible conclusion from the new IDTechEx report Organic and Printed Electronics in Europe which analyses and compares the activities of 248 European organizations in the sector.
Consider the patents scene. Analyst Cintelliq has issued a report “Inventors 2003-2005” - an analysis of inventors of organic semiconductor patents. See www.cintelliq.com for further details. One of its summary charts lists the world’s most prolific patentors by name and allegiance in the period 2003-2005. They are under the categories LED and Transistors, where the Japanese were the winners in both cases, Photovoltaics and Lasers, where the US led, Sensors, where many European and US inventors were equal with a mere two patents each, Memory cell, with the US leading and Other, with Japan in the lead. In “LED” category (essentially OLED), just one person, Shunpei Yamazaki in Japan, had 104 patents granted in that period. Europe was the loser.
Look at it another way, if we add up the named inventors qualifying for the Cintelliq league tables above, we find that East Asia and the USA both had nearly twice as many winners as Europe. Some say that such analysis is misleading because the East Asians, in particular, patent trivia much of the time. IDTechEx finds no evidence of this but we are able to compare the continents in other ways too. Our new report Printed and Thin Film Transistors expresses the opinion that there are about 200 organizations worldwide doing serious work that can lead to printed transistors and memory. This is potentially the biggest sector of printed electronics, just as silicon transistors and memory are the biggest sector of conventional electronics. The report looks closely at 150 of these organizations. Where are they located? The chart below gives the figures.