Headquarters: Hsinchu, Taiwan
Industry sector: Displays
What is today known as E-Ink Holdings began life in 1992 as Yuan Tai Technologies, and quickly became one of Taiwan’s leading papermaking and printing companies. Years of sustained investment in next-generation ePaper technologies culminated in 2009, when it splashed out $215 million to acquire the Massachusetts-based E Ink Corporation and its portfolio of patents related to electrophoretic displays from Philips. The E Ink technology underlies the biggest players in the e-reader market including Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s nook. In 2008, the company took over ailing Korean LCD panel manufacturer BOE Hydis. After six straight years of losses, E-Ink Holdings returned Hydis to profitability in 2010, partly because it had managed to licence out its fringe field switching (FFS) LCD technology to the likes of Sharp, AU Optronics, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Innolux and former owner BOE. This proactive commitment to generating revenue through patents makes E-Ink Holdings stand out among Taiwanese companies, and suggests that its IP strategy will allow it to create value even if its core product market of e-readers continues to falter.