The State of Ohio 3rd Frontier techonology awards were announced for this year and two of Kent’s favorite liquid crystal start-ups were recipients once again — Kent Displays and Alpha Micron will both receive $1 million. That means out of $5.7 million provided statewide, Kent companies got 35% of the total State allocation. That’s an impressive statement for high tech commercialization in Kent.
These companies are two great examples of what the future holds in store for Kent’s economy. With research born in Kent State’s liquid crystal institute labs these two companies have roots in Kent and they have chosen to stay and grow their businesses here. When it comes to keeping these companies in Kent, the CEO’s of both companies have emphasized the importance of re-energizing the downtown and making Kent a more vibrant place for the employees and their families that they are bringing into Kent from all over the world — which explains the sense of urgency we have to keep the downtown project rolling forward.
Here’s an excerpt from the news article in Crains that referenced the Kent 3rd Frontier Awards:
Among the businesses receiving advanced material awards was Kent Displays Inc. of Kent, which got $1 million. Kevin Oswald, the company’s communications director, said the funding will be used for the development of flexible liquid crystals.
A consumer application includes creating an electronic skin that would permanently be integrated to the surface of, say, a cell phone, allowing the user to change the phone’s color by pressing a button.
“If I am wearing an orange shirt today and wanted to change my phone orange, I could do that,” he said. “If I change my shirt tomorrow to red, I could change my phone to red. It allows dynamic appearance change of an object.”
Oswald said the company previously received about $12 million in Third Frontier funding. He said the money helped to take the company from about 40 employees two years ago to about 70 today. The funding also helped to launch the Boogie Board, an electronic writing tablet that uses unique liquid crystal display technology and needs virtually no power to operate.
Other companies receiving advance material program awards included:
— AlphaMirror Inc. of Kent, in collaboration with AlphaMicron, Elbit Systems and Magna Mirrors, $1 million to manufacture an affordable and environmentally friendly plastic film, auto dimming rear view mirror.