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Estonian Visitret plans production in Korea

The Estonian start-up company Visitret Displays, developing novel electrophoretic displays, plans to set up an engineering facility in Korea and launch production there by the 2nd quarter of the next year.

"We continue R&D activities in Estonia, but decided to set up a product development facility in Korea because of the availability of the necessary engineering competence there," says Andrus Kurvits, VP of Business Development at Visitret, to news2biz. "Collaboration with Korean organizations enables us to use industry-specific equipment but also well-trained people in development and testing. We expect very effective cooperation with Chonbuk National University and KETI (Korea Electronics Technology Institute).

Visitret has already hired two display experts in Korea. Next the company plans to assemble a team of engineers, who will at first be responsible for designing the so-called engineering sample of Visitret's product. "Their task will also be to prepare the manufacturing process up to the point that our products would be compatible with the existing manufacturing standards and equipment. It is possible to order customized setting of manufacturing equipment as well, yes, but it is quite expensive, and we would rather prefer to keep manufacturing costs down," tells Kurvits. 

The product of Visitret is an electrophoretic display, similar to e-ink displays used in e-book readers. Compared to similar bistable technologies already in use, though, Visitret's display possesses higher refresh rate as well as large format and higher durability to temperature extremes. It also enables to display the full range of colours. 

"Unlike regular e-ink display, our product does work in harsh environments, which makes it more suitable for outdoor applications," says Kurvits. "Our pipeline of applications is long and features displays for various purposes, but the first products we intend to launch for digital signage market. It can be combined with solar cells in outdoor applications, which will then be autonomous due to the display's very low power consumption."  

In other words, Visitret's first product is suitable for applications such as displays showing arrival and departure times at bus stops, which are addressed by a European Commission supported project ESIGNAGE, led by Visitret. "These are niche markets that compared to consumer electronics market are not characterized by large volumes but rather by customized approach," says Kurvits. 

"Our plan is to get market experience with a product suitable for niche markets before trying to commercialize our next generation products and enter customer electronics market. As our company is still in a start-up phase, we want to set up showcases first, before knocking on doors of industry giants for cooperation," tells Kurvits. 

Tartu Science Park based Visitret Displays was established in 2007, and its research team involves several scientists with the background of fundamental sciences reasearch at the Tartu University. In 2009-2010, the company conducted two financing rounds, raising seed capital from angel investors. The third round is also in the agenda, and according to Kurvits Visitret is under negotiations with the state-owned development agency Estonian Development Fund as well as private venture capital. 

At the moment, Visitret employs 27 including two recently employed display experts in Korea. The company's owners' circle includes British business angel David Honey and Estonian seed capital investment company Spring Capital.  

We have talked to Andrus Kurvits andrus.kurvits@visitret.com Tel+372 504 7557 (mobile) 


Original article is here.

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