Tunghsu pursues expansion through M&A, partnerships

Published on 05/18 2017  Source: China Daily


With its research and development prowess and intellectual property management expertise, Tunghsu Group is exploring diverse businesses and seeking industrial breakthroughs.

The largest flat panel display glass manufacturer in China, which joined the ranks of the world's top four in the industry by production capacity in 2015, is an emerging force for its rapid expansion in the graphene sector.

It announced last week that it has poured approximately 80 million yuan ($11.6 million) into buying a 51 percent stake in MS Technology in Beijing, a high-tech company focusing on graphene research and application, including LED lighting.

The investment is another key move for Tunghsu in the new material's industrial application, after its acquisition of G-King, a Shanghai-based graphene company, last year, said Wang Zhonghui, deputy general manager of the group company's subsidiary Dongxu Optoelectronic Technology.

Tunghsu launched what is reportedly the world's first graphene battery in 2016, beating lithium-ion batteries in longevity and able to completely recharge in less than 15 minutes, according to the company.

Revolving around the signature product is a protective network, comprising patents, trademarks, software copyrights and trade secrets, said Zhang Xiaoyu, chief IP officer and assistant president of Tunghsu Group.

Of its more than 1,500 patent filings, 32 are related to graphene, Zhang said, adding all the five international filings via the Patent Cooperation Treaty are also concerning the new material.

Currently, the company has more than 1,000 patents, some 90 trademarks and nine software copyrights.

After a series of mergers and acquisitions of graphene businesses in China, overseas investment projects are also under negotiation, he said, declining to reveal more details.

"Our IP team has had full participation in such M&A and technology deals," Zhang said.

"The team's opinions have a crucial impact on whether to continue the deals, as the analysis of targeted IP assets can spot legal risks and give a clue to their technological and business value," he noted.

To date, Zhang's team has issued more than 60 due diligence reports for roughly 70 M&A deals.

About 30 patent engineers work with the group company to support its entire business, ranging from R&D to production and sales, said Guo Feng, IP director at Tunghsu Group.

At the company's headquarters in Beijing, an eight-strong IP management team includes six experts who previously worked as patent examiners at the State Intellectual Property Office for at least five years on average. Guo himself is one of them.

Making full use of patent information, the IP team published a monthly report to the management, analyzing the company's own patents and also conducted research into its major rivals' technological trends, Zhang said.

To sharpen its edge in innovation, Tunghsu has also cooperated with top higher education and research institutes in the graphene field, including the Beijing Institute of Technology and Shanghai Jiaotong University.

The company has bought more than 10 patents from the two schools, resulting from their respective cooperative projects.

After a joint venture with the Beijing institute, focusing on graphene research and production, in 2014, Tunghsu announced in April to found a graphene research and application center in Barcelona with the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in Spain, also known as ICN2, a top European research institute.

In addition, the company has established three graphene industrial funds, each with at least 100 million yuan, in cooperation with different local governments to incubate startups and encourage innovation.

Targeted beneficiaries are high-tech companies with proprietary IP core technologies in the industry, according to Tunghsu.

The ministries of industry and information technology, science and technology, and finance, together with the National Development and Reform Commission, have issued guidelines for industries that create new materials, such as graphene, seeking to improve innovation.

China hopes to develop the stable supply of advanced basic materials by 2020, to provide 70 percent of critical and strategic new materials the country needs, while making technological breakthroughs in frontier materials, such as graphene and nanophase materials, according to the guidelines.

The output value of the country's new material industry has more than tripled in five years to nearly 2 trillion yuan as of 2015, Xinhua reported.