Kopin sets up LED joint venture in Asia

US-based Kopin plans to exploit its LED manufacturing technology through a joint venture called KO-BRITE, based in Taiwan and China.

Kopin Corporation has formed a joint venture company to spin off its LED technology to a low-cost manufacturing operation in Asia.

The Taunton, MA, company will take a 20% share in KO-BRITE Corporation in return for its technical knowledge relating to InGaN LED production and a $3 million investment.

In addition to Kopin’s investment, the venture capital group WK Technology Fund, Taiwanese III-V semiconductor manufacturer KTC, and an un-named LED packaging company with operations in both China and Taiwan have committed $11.5 million to the project.

The initial deal puts only a small value on Kopin’s InGaN technology, but the US company stands to receive $7.5 million by providing training services and transferring equipment to KO-BRITE.

Under the deal, GaN materials growth capability will be established in Taiwan, along with die production facilities in mainland China.

Kopin has been trying to find a low-cost LED manufacturing partner to pair with its technology for some time (see related story).

“Current trends affecting the LED industry clearly indicate that successful participants will need both leading-edge technology and a competitive cost structure,” said John Fan, the Kopin CEO.

“This joint venture…will position KO-BRITE as a technology leader with a strong management team and one of the lowest manufacturing cost structures in the industry.”

Kopin plans to stop the costly exercise of manufacturing LEDs itself by March 31, 2005, and is aiming to have completed training and transfer of its LED operations to KO-BRITE by July 1, 2005.

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