Analysis

Business Climate Survey

24th March 2022
Beatrice O'Flaherty

The signs are set for growth in the flexible, organic, and printed electronics industry. This is the clear message from the latest business climate survey conducted by the OE-A (Organic and Printed Electronics Association), with 86% of the survey participants expecting the industry to continue its positive development in 2022.

“We have seen that innovation has continued through the pandemic, and our members throughout the supply chain and product cycle are looking forward to positive near-term growth” summarises Stan Farnsworth, chair of the OE-A board and chief marketing officer of NovaCentrix, regarding the results of the latest OE-A Business Climate Survey for the international press at LOPEC 2022 in Munich, Germany.

The semi-annual business climate survey sheds light on the anticipated growth of the organic and printed electronics industry.

The leading user industries for printed electronics applications are Consumer Electronics, Automotive, and Medical & Pharmaceutical. In the survey, OE-A members – from material suppliers to end users – are asked to provide qualitative data on the state of the industry and their expected sales development.

OE-A expects 12% sales growth for 2022

The positive trend for printed electronics echoes the results seen in the October survey.

Yet, the full recovery of the printed electronics industry is taking longer than was expected last fall. The coronavirus crisis left its mark on the industry, with 88% of respondents noting the negative impact of the pandemic, primarily manifested in supply chain issues. The current challenge in particular is the procurement of electronic components and chemicals. But the prospects are promising, and companies are seeing an increasing recovery of customer demand, especially in USA and Europe.

Notably, fewer companies used or plan to use government aid and support programs in comparison to last October. With an expected 12% growth in sales revenue, the printed electronics community turns out to be slightly less optimistic compared to autumn 2021 (+14 %). Sales revenue growth for 2023 has a positive outlook of 16%.

This may or may not reflect concerns about the Russian war in Ukraine, which was initiated during the survey period, and which is judged by the OE-A as an unjustified act of aggression that needs to be countered with sanctions. “The war in Ukraine and the worldwide implications are adding to the uncertainties the industry has had to endure in the past two years. While it will add headwind, we remain optimistic that the printed electronics industry will continue to grow and develop”, adds Stan Farnsworth.

More than 75% of the survey participants plan investments in the upcoming six months, emphasising a positive outlook. Furthermore, according to the survey, the employment situation develops very positively: 69% planning to increase their staff, which is compared to October 2021 (23%) a significant increase and the highest since the start of the survey eight years ago.

Continuous growth of investment in R&D and Marketing

“Looking back to the OE-A Business Climate results of past years and in long-term comparison we clearly see a continuous growth of investments in R&D as well as in marketing.

These are two sides of the same coin. Continuous investment in R&D will foster our industry’s innovative power and new products. With a growing part of these products are already in or close to market, marketing expenditures to promote successful customer engagements are expected to increase”, concludes Stan Farnsworth.

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