A totally local hi-tech team impresses the international market and inspires Hong Kong inventors and innovators technological achievement grand award Solomon Systech The display panel on your next cellular phone will be impressively improved from your last. Forget straining your eyes to read names, numbers and messages in grey on old-fashioned liquid crystal. The future is light, bright, colourful and high-contrast. It is also 'Made in Hong Kong'. Although the name of the new technology may not sound especially glamorous, the OLED (organic light-emitting diode) Driver Controller ICs - which earned Solomon Systech the Grand Award for Technological Achievement in the Hong Kong Awards for Industry - sets a milestone for local inventors and for Hong Kong's fledging hi-tech industry. Not only did a local company make the technology breakthrough, with patents pending, but perhaps even more remarkably the entire process was achieved by an exclusively local team of electronic engineers. Solomon Systech has also demonstrated the marketing savvy to become a global market leader with the product that was two years in the making. The OLED display is expected to generate about US$1.4 billion in revenue over the next six years in the global mobile phone market alone. 'It is revolutionising the mobile phone market, with 15 million handsets expected to launch with the new technology this year alone, including the so-called 3G systems,' Humphrey Leung Kwong-wai, Solomon Systech 's president and managing director says. Cell-phone leaders including Motorola, KTF (Korean Telecom Freetel) and BENQ are already manufacturing with the product. A few manufacturers are developing their own in-house versions, but Solomon Systech's OLED Driver ICs are the commercial version dominating the open market. But cellular phones are only the tip of the potential market's iceberg. 'Other applications are limited only by your imagination,' Mr Leung says. 'Notebook computers, PDAs and MP3s can be much brighter, and so fast they can play movies. The technology adapts easily to a flexible screen, such as plastic, so it can bend enough to fit on clothing. You could wear a computer on your arm. 'Exit signs from dark areas such as cinemas are another obvious application. The possibilities go on and on.' The technology is bafflingly complicated, as might be expected of a semiconductor the length of a fingernail that contains a million transistors. Founded only in 1999, as a spin-off from Motorola, fast-expanding Solomon Systech has quickly proved itself to be a global force to be reckoned with in the high-quality semiconductor market. Mr Leung's vision is for the company to 'claim the spotlight' in the hi-tech global niche and be a leader in Hong Kong and China. The results speak for themselves. At its new headquarters in the Hong Kong Science Park in Pak Shek Kok, the firm is already a glittering role model for Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's hi-tech vision for Hong Kong. It was even singled out for a recent visit by Premier Wen Jiabao. With success, the workforce is also fast-expanding and now numbers 110 - 27 per cent with master's and PhD degrees, and another 45 per cent with bachelor's degrees in electronics. All the talent is Hong Kong-born. The Grand Award is only the latest of a string of accolades recognising Solomon Systech's achievements, including previous Hong Kong Awards for Industry in the Export Marketing category and the HK New SME Award in 2001. An HKEIA Gold Award and Grand Award for Outstanding Innovation and Technology Products followed last year. Demonstrating its commitment to Hong Kong, the firm shares technology with local universities, in particular the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and City University, as well as Tsing Hua and Shanghai universities. 'We are doing our best to promote Hong Kong's hi-tech image by becoming recognised not only regionally but internationally,' Mr Leung says. 'The government wants Hong Kong to be a hub for innovation and technology, and this is what we do.'