Universal Display Corp. develops organic light emitting diodes (OLED), films of organic material that light up when charged with an electric current. Technology that was a dot of light when the company started in 1994 now holds the imminent promise of making even thinner television displays and more efficient lights possible.
The company, which got its startup funding from founder Sherwin Seligsohn, won its first SBIR grant in 1997. "To get research dollars through the SBIR program was a nice way to validate the significance of our technology," says Janice Mahon, vice president of technology commercialization. Universal Display has since received more than two-dozen such awards, collaborating with both the Department of Energy and Department of Defense. DOE grants support light-source technology development for household or office use, while the DOD funds flexible displays that soldiers can affix to their clothes and take into the field. While the money has sped up the development timeline, no SBIR-funded research has yet to be commercialized. "OLED technology on the display side just started to hit the market a couple of years ago," Mahon says. "We had funding very early in the product lifecycle in this technology."
Even though Universal Display is currently listed on the NASDAQ and capitalized at nearly half a billion dollars, the company is still considered "small" for its industry by the Small Business Administration's standards. - Herman Wong
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