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26 January, 2015 - 11:06 By Tony Quested

ARM and CIC lead £5.4m investment in IoT gamechanger

Victor-Christou-Scott-White

UK technology great ARM has joined forces with Cambridge Innovation Capital to invest £5.4 million in Cambridge-based flexible electronics pioneer PragmatIC Printing to accelerate a key development in IoT implementation.

The cash supports production of flexible integrated circuits for the Internet of Things.

The funding partners say that ultra-thin and low-cost flexible microcircuits, incorporated into mass-market objects and packaging, are poised to revolutionise everyday living by providing real-time information about every aspect of the environment. 

PragmatIC makes these devices; the £5.4 million funding led by CIC with support from ARM and existing shareholders will enable the business to scale its operations globally.

PragmatIC is hiring more staff and ramping up of its production capacity to 100 million flexible integrated circuits later this year.

Scott White, PragmatIC’s CEO said: “We have become accustomed to silicon chips being incorporated into high-value documents such as passports and credit cards, but there are limitations to how robustly and cost-effectively this can be done. Our technology platform creates a microcircuit thinner than a human hair that can be easily embedded in any flexible surface.”

The applications for PragmatIC’s devices, which are cost-effective enough to be incorporated into disposable items, are vast: from intelligent packaging of fast-moving consumer goods, to wireless traceability of documents for security and identification.

Victor Christou, senior investment director of CIC, which provides long-term growth funding for life science and technology companies in the Cambridge Cluster, said: “PragmatIC’s flexible electronics offers the most compelling and cost effective product I’ve seen in the 20 years I’ve been involved in this industry. 

“The company has already demonstrated a scalable and cost-effective manufacturing process. With CIC’s support, the company can now meet the pent-up demand from customers for higher volume commercial production.”

The funding also allows PragmatIC to broaden its circuit design activities, including applications such as sensors, processors and wireless communications: the essential building blocks to enable the emerging Internet of Things.

Mike Muller, ARM’s chief technology officer, said: “ARM is committed to identifying innovative and disruptive new technology platform. We are supporting PragmatIC as it has the potential to dramatically extend the range of form factors and economics of embedded intelligence. 

“We see particularly compelling possibilities to embed connectivity and computational power in everyday objects at extremely low cost.”

The funding comes alongside a growing revenue base from large multinational customers across a number of sectors, including consumer goods, security printing and wearable electronics. 

While most of these relationships remain confidential, development projects with industry leaders such as Procter and Gamble, De La Rue plc and Hallmark have been previously announced.

Scott White added: “We are hugely excited by both the additional resources and the strategic contribution that will result from this investment by CIC and ARM. We look forward to further developing our world-leading technology platform and blue-chip customer base through the course of 2015.”

• PHOTOGRAPH: Victor Christou, senior investment director of CIC with Scott White, CEO PragmatIC Printing 

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