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Barr Ellison Solicitors – commercial property
14 September, 2006 - 13:43 By Staff Reporter

Philips spin-out bolsters technology capital claim

Philips spin-out, Liquavista has established its worldwide commercial headquarters in Cambridge, adding weight to the city’s growing claim on world capital status in the next-generation display space.

Liquavista is built around electro-wetting technology, which enables, the company says, high-speed, low-power displays, which actually get brighter in sunlight. These properties combine to present a powerful proposition to manufacturers of all manner of mobile devices.

The company is displaying fleet-footed progress following its April spin-out from Philips’ labs in Eindhoven – financed by Ipswich based corporate venturing outfit, New Venture Partners (NVP).

The company received investment of €5m (£3.4m) at the time of spin-out and has subsequently secured the first-closing of an anticipated €10m (£6.8m) Series A round

Liquavista has taken space at Cambourne Business Park and plans to grow its workforce to around 15 in the medium term.

The start-up joins a genuinely world-class display cluster, which also includes the likes of Cambridge Display Technology, Plastic Logic, Screen Technology, Light Blue Optics and Pelikon.

Despite being a Dutch company, Liquavista has strong East of England connections, a factor in its move to Cambridge.

NVP’s UK team is built around the principals from BT Brightstar at Adastral Park in Ipswich, recruited following a $100m technology access deal with BT.

Meanwhile, recently recruited Mark Gostick is a co-founder of the city’s most famous display pioneer, CDT.

However pragmatism informed the decision above all, according to Gostick: “There are few business centres in the world that understand displays.

“We came to Cambridge because it offers a relatively deep well of very good technical people and very good commercial people with knowledge of the display space. Also, the VC infrastructure in the UK is a lot more developed than on the Continent.”

Following its successful spin out from Philips Research in the spring and the launch of its first prototype displays at SID 2006 in San Francisco, Liquavista says it is already in discussion with potential partners and prospects keen to find out more about the company’s new display technology.

“I don’t believe in hanging around” said Gostick.

”Having successfully launched the first series of prototype displays – ColorMatch & ColorBright – in June, the Liquavista team is now working hard to install a process development line in our Far East facility.

“The number of employees in the company has also grown significantly and we have made three critical hires across the UK & the Netherlands.

“The company is really beginning to pick up speed and the global display industry is watching our progress closely,” added Gostick.

“Liquavista’s recent appointments, and the start of its strategy of having a presence in all centres of display excellence worldwide, marks the beginning of a rapid growth phase.”

One of the key hires is Martin Stephenson, who as CFO, will be based in Cambridge.

“Liquavista’s decision to have a permanent site in the UK is its first step in building a global business. It is the company’s intention to have a presence in the significant centres of display excellence in the world,” said Stephenson.

Liquavista’s early applications, most likely in clocks and watches, are expected to enter the market early next year.

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