Merck invests USD25.9 million to make flexible OLED materials in Shanghai

Germany’s Merck is making a EUR22 million (USD25.9 million) bet on the demand for organic light-emitting diode display materials that support next-generation gadgets, according to an executive at the multinational.

OLED can be used to make foldable, transparent, and flexible screens, representing the future, Michael Heckmeier, head of display solutions at the Darmstadt-based firm, told Yicai Global in an exclusive interview yesterday.

China is one of Merck’s most important global markets, and Shanghai is the headquarters of its high-performance materials business in China.

More than half of the funds will be used to expand the scale of the company’s OLED lab. The remainder will be spent on building a plant that will be finished within two years after construction starts late this year.

The timing is right. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated digitalization with an increase in remote work so many companies have hiked their investment in laptop computers and external displays, according to Heckmeier. Revealingly, global TV set sales have recently rebounded after falling in the second quarter, he added.

However, the development of China’s sector of display materials requires patience, the executive vice president said, adding that Merck has been in China for 80 years. Companies need to make efforts with a broad scope while building both software and hardware prowess, he added.

Still, China’s companies have strong capabilities in application and production, according to the EVP.

Merck has teamed with Chinese display makers that are trying to improve their upstream supply chains. The German firm has joined hands with TCL Technology’s printing and display research and development base in Guangzhou and penned a cooperation agreement with BOE Technology this year on OLED technologies.