Canada’s printed electronics sector is in the perfect position to become a world leader in the industry – it just needs the funding to get there.

On Wednesday, day one of the 2017 Canadian Printable, Flexible, Wearable Electronics Symposium (CPES2017), the Canadian Printable Electronics Industry Association (CPEIA) launched a $100 million challenge aimed at encouraging both outside funding for new products and applications, and companies to showcase the investments already being made.

The organization’s goal is to report $100 million or more in disclosed investments by CPES2019.

“Canada’s printable, flexible and wearable electronics industry is a sector ripe with opportunity for investment, and yet, our small and mid-sized companies are challenged by a shortage of capital,” CPEIA president and CEO Peter Kallai said in a May 24 statement. “Many lack internal resources and access to the manufacturing and prototyping capabilities to scale.”

In a previous interview, Kallai told ITBusiness.ca that Canada’s printed electronics industry, and CPEIA itself, was at a “turning point,” noting that the association was evolving from its original networking focus into what he called “an ecosystem-building alliance,” and that CPES itself this year would be focused on showcasing the myriad uses for printed electronics in a variety of industries, including intelligent buildings, aerospace and defence, automotive parts, and even health and wellness.

The challenge is part of that effort, aimed at addressing the gap between the Canadian industry’s potential and its present value by showcasing where investments are being made in the sector.

“If we showcase where investments are being made, other investors will take notice and recognize the value of supporting in this sector,” Kallai said.

How the challenge will work

In issuing the challenge, CPEIA is calling on its industrial members – more than 50 are listed on the association’s website, though Kallai has noted the Canadian printable electronics industry comprises more 250 organizations and counting, including startups, mid-sized companies, multinationals with Canadian operations, and academic and institutional research teams – to disclose any funding they invest in research and product development, expansion of their manufacturing operations, and/or commercialization.

This can include:

  • Internal investments from their own cash flow for new development activities, or expansion;
  • External investment such as seed, angel, private equity, or venture capital investments;
  • Contributions from government programs such as the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), or other federal programs that don’t require repayment;
  • Other sources of financing such as credit lines, leases for capital equipment, or issuance of debentures.

The association eventually plans to draw from the disclosed information to publish lists of the industry’s top 25 investors, top 25 employers, 25 fastest-growing companies, and top 25 R&D employers.

CPEIA members interested in participating are encouraged to e-mail Kallai himself or the association’s programs director, Leo Valiquette.

Full disclosure: ITBusiness.ca parent company ITWC is a media sponsor of CPES 2017.

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