Opsys gets more funding

Oxford-based technology group, Opsys Limited has secured GBP8 million in its most recent funding round to support its two-year expansion programme. Venture capital investors 3i and Quester are leading the funding of the initial phase of the programme, committing GBP3 million and GBP2.5 million, respectively. This is the second tranche of funding both groups have invested in Opsys.

Other backers in this funding round include Japanese venture capital group, NIF with GBP1.8 million and international investment bank, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, acting through its Online Markets Investments division, with GBP0.69 million. A further round of funding is planned for later in the year.

Opsys Limited is a technology group focused on developing the new generation of thinner, brighter flat graphic display screens. The company was founded in 1997 to exploit groundbreaking research emerging from the University of Oxford. The technology is based on new light emitting materials and designs and offers manufacturers of portable consumer electronic equipment huge benefits in terms of lower production costs, purer colour and a longer battery life.

The company received funding from 3i and Quester back in January when it announced a GBP5.3 million expansion plan. In that financing round, Opsys received a GBP2 million investment from 3i and GBP1.5 million from Quester through its venture capital trusts, Quester VCT and Quester VCT2 and the Isis College Fund. Existing private shareholders and new private investors contri-buted the GBP1.8 million balance.

The cash raised allowed the company to move into new state-of-the-art laboratories near Oxford.

With its most recent round of funding the company will implement a two-year plan that includes a new manufacturing and research facility near Silicon Valley with initial production scheduled for late 2002; expansion of the UK research facility; key technology licensed from Eastman Kodak Company; and the board appointment of three leading industry figures and negotiations to license Opsys technology and products. Professor John Baits has become vice chairman, Damoder Reddy will be appointed chief operating officer for the US product development and manufacturing operation and David Martin joins as a director. The company has also begun a recruitment drive to attract talented engineers and chemists with OLED experience to its operations in the US and the UK.

Matthew Mead, investment director at 3i Group, said: “The worldwide market for graphic displays is forecast to reach GBP70 billion a year within the next four years. Opsys is at the forefront of developing technology, which will be ideal for the fastest growth segments of the displays markets.

We are pleased to be backing a company, which has such value to bring to this technology and this huge market.