COPT Center provides access to leading-edge technological infrastructure and expertise in the field of organic electronics to industry, in particular SMEs.
The target of COPT is to build an industry across the value chain of TOLAE technologies (TOLAE: Thin, Organic and Large Area Electronics) consisting of material, equipment, component and system manufacturers predominantly located in North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) and to interlink with the existing industrial infrastructure of NRW.
COPT has been implemented based on the following 2 pillars:
1. The regional network COPT.NRW e.V. building a platform for regional providers of production technology, materials and basic research.
2. The regional competence centre COPT CENTER, financed by the government of NRW (co-financed by the ERDF) and operated by University of Cologne, providing a technology platform and know-how which allows SME to access TOLAE technologies. COPT Center has been set up in a way that entry barriers for SME has been kept low.
The following strategic targets have been set:
- Build a national and international network of technology providers towards well defined applications and across the value chain
- Provide OpenInnovation process platforms to enable SME to adopt the TOLAE components in products and help technology providers to qualify their products.
- Total funding of the NRW government (co-financed by ERDF) in COPT (including related R&D projects): 50 m€
- Funding for erecting the COPT Center R&D infrastructure: 7 m€
- Funding for COPT Center equipment: 5 m€
Evidence of success
COPT Center has opened its building on October 19th, 2015. It has started its operation approximately 6 months later when first process platforms were ready to become operational. Since begin of 2016 COPT Center has built a network of approx. 30 leads, and received orders (resp. rented space for R&D) from approx. 10 customers. At present COPT Center is participating in 5 publicly funded R&D projects.
Framework programmes and funding schemes need to be defined in several years advance and may not always be in line with the market requirements.
It would be beneficial to create a better overlap between the two processes of technology transfer and investment fund
Potential for learning or transfer
Enterprises active in TOLAE, specifically start-ups and SME, face time challenges. Technologies often need longer time and require higher investments to be adopted by the market than originally expected. To overcome this challenge they need easy access to expensive process platforms, space for proprietary R&D and assistance to develop and evaluate electronic layers and structures.
To assist such enterprises, COPT Center follows three different approaches in parallel:
1. Initiate joint R&D projects which target prototyping as well as the acquisition of public funding,
2. Invite partners to the COPT Center to operate their own equipment in dedicated rooms, while simultaneously taking advantage of the technical facilities and the “innovative spirit” at COPT, and
3. Offer technical service to industrial partners to speed up their development activities.
This flexible, cost-minimised approach provides for a creative environment for disruptive innovations.
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