German group Merck, which operates in pharma, biotech, and materials, today announced its acquisition of Jerusalem-based Qlight Nanotech. Qlight is a nanotechnology company that has developed a nanocrystal that converts light frequencies to other frequencies with a minimum loss of energy, thereby improving liquid crystal display (LCD) screens and LED lighting. The companies did not disclose the amount paid for Qlight, but based on past investments, it is believed to be in the tens of millions of dollars.
Merck CEO Karl-Ludwig Kley told "Globes" today, "Qlight's products can enable Merck to grow in the flexible screen niche, which is the next generation of illuminated screens. It can make white and cold lighting shades warm and more pleasant without a loss of energy (this capability is translated into lower battery consumption), and improve the performance of screens illuminated by backlighting in both energy consumption and the quality the displayed light."
Kley added, "We plan on retaining Qlight as our R&D center in Israel, and on employing its staff. Qlight's products will enable us to grow in the flexible screens sector, and can make LED lighting warmer and improve the performance of backlighting on the existing screens."
Managed by CEO Shlomo Amir, Qlight was founded in 2009 on the basis of technology developed in Prof. Uri Banin's laboratory at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and commercialized by Yissum Technology Transfer Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The company was associated with Merck from the beginning. Merck's chemical division already produces the materials on which high-end LCD screens are based. The first cooperation between the companies was in development of a new and improved screen using Qlight's nano-crystals, cooperation that included financial support for research in return for marketing rights to the final product.
Satisfied with the result, Merck also signed a cooperation agreement for "warm" LED lighting technology. In this case, Qllight was to have been the distributor, with Merck receiving royalties in exchange for financing the research. Merck invested a total of €1 million in the two projects.
Merck added to its investment in the company in 2013, apparently investing a further few million dollars, thereby increasing its stake in Qlight to 50%. The product currently closest to market is designed to improve LCD screens, while the two other products - warm LED lighting and completely new screens that do not require LCD crystals - will take a few more years to reach the market. All these products will now be fully owned by Merck.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 29, 2015
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