Plastic will boost UK manufacturing
08 December 2009
Ensuring the UK remains a leader in the high-growth plastic electronics sector is at the heart of a new government strategy launched by Lord Mandelson.
Plastic electronics technology makes it possible to produce a wide range of innovative products more cheaply and in a more environmentally-friendly way than before. The global market for these technologies is forecast to grow at an astonishing rate over the next decade, exceeding $120billion by 2020. This rapid expansion will create up to 20,000 jobs and also generate a wealth of economic opportunities for the UK.
Launching the strategy at the QE2 Conference Centre in London, Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson said:
“Plastic Electronics technology has the capacity to revolutionise the way we do things and shake up whole industries. And it’s a sector where Britain has huge potential for leadership, employment and growth. The UK is already a global leader in the sector thanks to our world-class science-base and our strengths in research, creativity and innovation. We now need a roadmap for the industry that takes it from cutting edge to mass market while keeping Britain firmly in front. This new industry-led strategy is another important step towards achieving the vision defined in New Industry, New Jobs. It sets out Government action to help industry champion the needs of the plastic electronics sector and drive innovation, so that a vibrant mix of manufacturers can unlock the full potential of the technology and exploit its opportunities.”
The Plastic Electronics Strategy for Success: Realising the UK Potential, identifies the key challenges facing the sector and recommends solutions, including actions to:
• Exploit opportunities for UK manufacturing in domestic and export markets and identify potential areas of global collaboration
• Encourage, co-ordinate and facilitate investment and support business growth to ensure that the UK remains an attractive environment for plastic electronics manufacturing
• Support the five Centres of Excellence in showcasing the benefits of using Plastic Electronics in the development of new products
• Develop new training strategies to ensure the future workforce has the multi-disciplinary skills needed as the sector expands
• Establish a Plastic Electronics Leadership Group (PELG) to champion the sector, raise its profile, and improve co-ordination within the industry and research institutions.
The recently announced £20 million expansion of the Printable Electronic Technology Centre (PETEC) in Sedgefield will also significantly boost product plastic electronics development facilities and create some 1500 jobs over the next four years.
The Government is announcing that the first stage in the centre’s expansion will be the development of production facilities for prototype flexible lighting panels and low-cost, long-life solar cells. This will be operational by September 2010. Following that, a manufacturing line for plastic electronic displays and integrated smart systems will be installed in the centre in early 2011. In addition, the Technology Strategy Board is investing £8 million in initiatives to help the industry work collaboratively to develop new manufacturing processes and innovative products.
Plastic Electronics technology allows circuits to be printed on to any surface and over large areas. This low-cost alternative to conventional silicon-based electronics will lead to the creation of new generations of products, including smart systems which integrate components such as sensors, batteries and displays. The global market for Plastic Electronics is under $2 billion now, but is forecast to grow to as much as $330 billion by 2027, and the largest growth in the sector is predicted to take place in the markets for rollable electronic display screens, ultra-efficient lighting, and low-cost, long-life solar cells.
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