Merck KGaA to Buy all of Quantum Materials Firm
German chemicals and pharmaceuticals producer Merck KGaA has announced it will take full control of Qlight Nanotech, based at Jerusalem, Israel. A spin-off of Yissum, the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the company is developing materials and applications based on semiconductor nanocrystals.
After taking an initial stake shortly after the Qlight Nanotech founding in 2009, Merck increased its participation in 2012 and again in 2013, to 50%. It did not quantify any of the investments.
The German company currently has three development centers in Israel, and Qlight’s Jerusalem location will add a fourth. The takeover of Sigma-Aldrich will bring the total to six and the number of Merck employees in Israel to 300. Qlight Nanotech’s Jerusalem site will remain its quantum materials research hub.
Acquiring Qlight Nanotech “fits perfectly into our innovation strategy, said Merck CEO Karl-Ludwig Kley. “We have set the basic platforms for growth in our three business sectors to grow organically and driven by innovation.”
By exploiting new technologies Kley said the Darmstadt chemical group aims to strengthen its leadership in liquid crystal display materials and growing presence in OLED materials. Qlight Nanotech’s novel nanocrystals are used to improve color impression and energy efficiency of modern displays.
“This acquisition is an important step in the excellent collaboration between Merck and Qlight that will lead to products in the flat panel displays market,” said Yaacov Michlin, CEO of Yissum and chairman of the board of Qlight Nanotech.
Professor Uri Banin, the scientific founder of the Israeli start-up, pointed to “clear synergies for Qlight’s quantum materials,” leveraging Merck’s dominant position in the display market.
Calling the deal “a landmark opportunity for Qlight Nanotech,” Banin added that the Hebrew University Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology will “greatly benefit from such close interactions and ties with Merck.”
Partnerships with Israeli companies and research institutions have resulted in some of the company’s best products, Kley said at an in Tel Aviv event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of German diplomatic and business relations with Israel. Around 15% of Merck’s products have an Israeli background, he estimated, adding, “We have strong working relationships to develop products with all of Israel’s research institutes.