A regional innovation cluster is emerging around the flexible electronics industry in Northeast Ohio. The FlexMatters® Cluster focuses on low cost, scalable manufacturing of flexible electronics such as electronic writing tablets, switchable eyewear, printed batteries, and medical implants for various markets such as the healthcare, military and consumer markets. The cluster consists of an expanding core group of universities, material suppliers, manufacturers, service providers and end-users.
The FlexMatters Cluster is rooted in the world-renown, breakthrough work of the Liquid Crystal Institute (LCI) at Kent State University and the globally recognized advances in polymer science by the University of Akron.
FlexMatters Cluster Timeline
- 2010 to present: Federal Government recognizes FlexMatters as a high-potential emerging cluster with cluster-targeted awards from the SBA, EDA and Dept. of Labor.
- 2002 - 2010: The state of Ohio's Third Frontier Program invested nearly $60M in Northeast Ohio companies engaged in flexible electronics research and development. The cluster has also attracted funding from the Army, Air Force, NSF, SBA, and FlexTech Alliance.
- 1991 - 2002: ALCOM attracted over $50M in funding, creating the technology and intellectual property used in a range of flexible electronics devices developed by several spin-off companies as well as medium and large businesses in Northeast Ohio.
- 1980's: Researchers at LCI began combining liquid crystals and polymers subsequently forming a partnership with the University of Akron and Case Western Reserve University to create the Center for Advanced Liquid Crystalline Optical Materials (ALCOM).
- 1970's: LCI demonstrated the first LCDs, which initiated the multi-billion dollar flat panel display industry now dominated by Asia.
To recognize the flexible electronics cluster and to accelerate its growth, NorTech launched the FlexMatters initiative.