Case Study: Novalia: Writing Apps for Cardboard boxes!

Founded in 2004 by Dr Kate Stone, with backing from Solon Ventures, Novalia are based in Cambridge in the UK.

Specialising in printed electronics, Novalia see a world where any printed item can be  enabled with interactivity, bringing it to life, which they call ʻInteractive Printed Mediaʼ (IPM). With this vision and her passion to integrate electronic components with traditional printing techniques, using processes and manufacturing capabilities that are available right now, Dr Stone has built a diverse team of people around her. Each have knowledge and expertise in the different disciplines required to cover the entire gamut of processes, from graphic design to print production and armed with an impressive patent portfolio.

To quote Dr Stone, “The innovation is in the integration”, a range of converting techniques are used to integrate print with electronics that enable the printed item to become interactive using high volume production processes to manufacture products incorporating a mixture of sensors, displays, lights, speakers, printed batteries and communication devices.

For the brand owner or packaging buyer this enables a true two- way communication between the print and the customer creating a 21st century user experience.

Working with traditional print houses and the customer, the process and collaboration starts when Novalia undertake a full assessment of equipment and tool sets already in place, understanding how to utilize what they have to work with avoids additional set up costs and gives Novalia the guidelines and parameters as to what they know is possible, recommending where necessary which components, inks and substrates should be used.

Novaliaʼs customersʼ commission product designs, these can involve writing interaction and or I/O software, circuit layout or creating graphics. All design services required by the customer are provided, thus Novalia collect a design or royalty fee on the customer products to fund future research and development, which creates IP (patents & know how) around printed electronic devices, methods of manufacture and applications. The IP portfolio created over the last six years can be accessed by the client under a licensing agreement.

Having already developed a range of product demonstrators, many of which were i
collaboration with customers, Novalia are currently engaged in a dozen or more projects that are close to market and are currently running print trials with their partners in the Northern Way projects and are just a few weeks away from completion.

The Team:

Founder / Chief Executive
Dr Kate Stone – first Class Electronic Engineering degree from the University of Salford,  followed by a PhD in Physics from the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University. Kate followed this time as a Research Assistant at the Cavendish Laboratory, and then went to join Plastic Logic, as a senior engineer focused on non-display applications. She left Plastic Logic to found Novalia.

Maria Menicou – Maria joined Novalia in 2008 after graduating from Anglia Ruskin University with a degree in graphic design. Maria’s first project at Novalia was to take the circuit design for the interactive greeting card and turn it into an art form. Maria’s creativity and ability to present technology to the customers in a way where form and function are perfectly combined has become a key differentiator for Novalia.

Electronic Engineer
Andrew Fraser – Andrew is an electronic engineer who develops the hardware platform, which is central to the technology. As well as designing the hardware Andrew develops software that runs on the platform and has extensive experience with driving peripheral devices, interfacing with printed electronics and touch sensitivity such as resistive and capacitive touch. Andrew also develops the application software for each customer project.

Printing / inks
Chris Jones – Chris has broad experience in the print and packaging industry, having worked in the industry since 1989. His particular focus has been in technical sales and business development around development of specialty inks. Experiences include  managing 29 technicians over 11 clients and responsibility for Tesco finest brand consistency across 400 printers worldwide. Chris is the interface between product design and printing, he has an ability to work with print technicians of any process to run the Novalia process, his experience is also essential to identify conductive inks and other materials to enable manufacture of products we have designed.

Contact Details
23 Cambridge Science Park,
Milton Road,
Telephone: +44 (0)1223 437 133
Fax: +44 (0)1223 437 121