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3M makes Mary Lou Jepsen's dreams come true, showers Pixel Qi with cash

Chances are you've heard plenty about Pixel Qi's super-efficient, transreflective displays. The odds are equally as high that you've never touched one before, either. Well, 3M aims to change all of that and make good on founder Mary Lou Jepsen's continued promises to get those screens out into the consumer wild. Infusing the LCD company with an undisclosed amount of cash, 3M's New Ventures investment arm is betting the combo of its Optical Systems Division's LCD film technology expertise and funding will not only ramp up production of the sunlight-readable color screens, but also innovate uses for it across "...consumer markets as well as digital signage and touch applications." It's a nice shot of confidence for the display maker's much-touted, albeit scarce tech, and could be the financial boost necessary to take Jepsen from underdog to industry heavyweight. We'll keep a close eye out for how this develops. In the meantime, you can jump past the break to read the hyperbolic PR for yourself.

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September 12, 2011 09:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time
3M Invests in Pixel Qi Corp.

ST. PAUL, Minn. & SAN BRUNO, Calif. & TAIPEI, Taiwan--(BUSINESS WIRE)--3M, through its 3M New Ventures organization, has invested in Pixel Qi Corp., a developer of next generation LCD panels with operations in Taiwan and California. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded by LCD pioneer, Dr. Mary Lou Jepsen in 2008, Pixel Qi designs unique, innovative LCD screens that solve problems not addressed by conventional screens. Its first products are sunlight-readable, low-power LCD panels aimed for mobile device applications.

As consumers increasingly rely on connected, mobile devices in their daily lives, there is a growing, unmet requirement for display devices that offer portability, connectivity, long battery life and excellent indoor/outdoor readability in one device. Current displays are not able to solve all of these challenges simultaneously. Pixel Qi's unique technology platform eliminates the need for trade-offs and enables high quality, outdoor or sunlight viewing with excellent battery life and portability in one device. The combination of its technologies with those of 3M will create excellent new opportunities for both companies.

"Pixel Qi's full-function color screen technology, for the first time, gives consumers an outdoor-readable video display with exceptional battery life, usable anywhere, anytime. It's a first in the industry. In our collaboration with 3M, we have the ability to accelerate this into mass adoption," said Mary Lou Jepsen, co-founder and CEO of Pixel Qi.

The funding led by 3M New Ventures will play a key role in enabling Pixel Qi to develop its product offerings into volume consumer markets as well as digital signage and touch applications. The investment, which successfully concludes Pixel Qi's second (series "B") investment round, will also allow Pixel Qi to build and to strengthen its engineering and sales capabilities.

Stefan Gabriel, president of 3M New Ventures said, "Pixel Qi's technology enables displays of such lower power and high usability that the vision of ubiquitous displays comes much closer to realization. In combining Pixel Qi's disruptive display technology with our technology platforms, we can create new business opportunities in the consumer and commercial markets for 3M."

3M's Optical Systems Division is a world leader in the specialized films used inside liquid crystal displays to optimize the light throughput. Pixel Qi's innovative LCD designs use such film technologies, and other advances, to create novel displays and enable the best outdoor readable, power efficient displays available on the market. "By addressing the energy consumption and sunlight readability challenges in one package, Pixel Qi provides a ground-breaking solution for the next generation of displays," said Jim Bauman, vice president, 3M Optical Systems Division. "The combination of Pixel Qi's low energy, reflective display technology with 3M's innovative technologies will create exciting products for the mobile, handheld, tablet and other display markets."

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. All statements other than statements of historical fact are statements that could be deemed forward-looking statements, including any statements of the future plans, strategies and objectives of management. Other risks, uncertainties and assumptions are described in 3M's SEC reports, including but not limited to the risks described under "Cautionary Note Concerning Factors That May Affect Future Results" and "Risk Factors" in Part I, Items 1 and 1A of the Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010 and in Part 1, Item 2 and Part II, Item 1A of its subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. 3M assumes no obligation and does not intend to update these forward-looking statements.