Resources | LpO Article | Interview | Business | Technologies | May 24, 2017

Andreas Weisl on the Future of Seoul Semiconductor

Andreas Weisl is Managing Director and Vice President Sales SEOUL SEMICONDUCTOR Europe GmbH.

 What sectors does the activity of Seoul Semiconductor involve?

Seoul Semiconductor is a world leading LED manufacturer. Due to our diverse product portfolio ranging from low- to high-power, as well as our dedication to innovation - we are a key player and driver in the LED industry. In our business model we are focusing on three different areas: Lighting, Automotive and IT. In Europe we are mainly focusing on Lighting and Automotive. In Lighting we are covering segments such Architectural, Commercial, Residential, Outdoor, Medical and Entertainment. Segments in Automotive are exterior - with applications such as daytime running lights  and headlights as well as interior. In IT – mainly covered by our offices in Asia - typical end applications are TV screens, monitors and mobile devices.

Important to mention: we are not doing any forward integration towards end products. We stop - different from other LED manufactures in the market - at module level. Also in the module business we are very successful and it also means that we are not competing with our customers. A fact that is highly appreciated and that allows open and trustful partnerships with our customers.

In your opinion, what is crucial for innovations in the field of technologies?

Since 1992 we are investing about 10% of our annual sales in Research and Development (R&D).

This resulted in a portfolio of over 12,000 granted patents worldwide, covering all relevant areas like materials, design and manufacturing, something which makes us unique in the market. As a result we developed highly successful and innovative products – such as Acrich the world's leading direct AC LED and Wicop, a simpler structured Package-Free LED which provides market leading color uniformity, cost savings at the fixture level with high lumen density and allows design flexibility.

Seoul Semiconductor was the only company among other LED manufacturers in the world  selected in the 2013 Semiconductor Manufacturing Patent Power Ranking by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). We also have been selected in the same category in 2012. It is noteworthy that IEEE’s patent power scorecards for each industry segment are based on the evaluation of the patent portfolios of more than 5,000 leading commercial enterprises, academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies worldwide. They take into account not only the size of an organizations’ patent portfolio, but also the quality of its patents with regard to growth index, impact, originality, and general applicability.

We actively defend our patent assets against infringing our LED technologies. We did this already in the past and we successfully enforced our claims. We respect intellectual property, as it is essential for technology innovation and fair market competition. But we need to enforce our rights, also to provide our customers with the necessary security when using our products.

What are the challenges and threats to the lighting sector?

As technology leader with a proven history of successes, we want to continue to develop not only our company but to also further drive the market. We are always researching for new technologies to be introduced to the market in order to provide our customers with the most innovative products and technologies possible – also in order to help them to grow their business.

A couple of years ago, it was important to reach the luminosity of light bulbs and later to exceed the efficacy of conventional lighting technology. This was followed by the need for a better light quality, especially a better color reproduction and efficacy. Now the challenge is to introduce new generations of LED technologies to significantly improve cost and performance, as LEDs enter new and sometimes cost sensitive markets. In addition more complex trends in the market - such as Smart Lighting, Human Centric Lighting, LiFi, IoT and more complex, smarter city concepts - requires new approaches which can also be ideally covered by our customized module solutions that we do not only develop in our Headquarter in Korea but also in our local laboratory in our European headquarter in Munich, Germany.

Growing constantly - with our excellent technology approach, highly motivated and talented teams in Europe as well as worldwide - combined with local proximity to our customers. It all shows that we are very well prepared to answer to these challenges. We do not see any threats in the lighting sector, only challenges that we will address in our usual positive manner.

What are the directions of company’s development?

We are well positioned for the future. For the last 25 years, we have invested tremendous resources in innovation in technology. As a result we have successfully commercialized several technologies as primary developer worldwide, making us the technology leader in our segment. We will continue to work on innovations for our own technologies, but we will also consider additional LEDs. More you will read in the future.

Currently, we see a huge potential in our growing business with customer specific LED-modules and our innovative AC and DC high-voltage solution Acrich, as well as in Wicop, our package less LED family. They all offer our customers a value never seen before. Our target is to grow further and to reach number 1 position in the market by 2021 or b) grow our market share to 20% by 2021.

One of the major factors in reaching this goal is customer satisfaction and a trust- and successful collaboration with them. This will only be possible if we continue to carefully listen to our customers, which are one of our strengths. In addition we know the markets -our own as well as the markets of our customers. This will help us to stay one step ahead and to keep on with providing products and solutions that will help customers around the world to create differentiated products in a variety of fields.

To achieve this, we will continue to hire top-notch technical talents who embrace challenges with enthusiasm and passion all over the world.

What are the strengths of SSC? In what way does SSC offer distinguish itself on the market of LED components?

Working closely with our customers, treating them as partners and not as competitors. We are not selling LED fixtures; we concentrate on providing the world’s best LED components and since 6 years our module solutions. This key strategy made us the number five LED company based on the 2015 revenues.

With our patent portfolio and our strong focus on research and development, we are a technology leader in our segment. We wouldn’t be there, if we wouldn’t move fast at a high innovation rate, which is only possible due to the creativity and technical expertise of our engineers. With our highly motivated and passionate team, we will continue to introduce products which are not only very innovative, but in addition will offer an excellent cost-performance ratio.

Generally, we are used to think and act in an extremely innovative manner in order to develop completely new approaches for products and technologies. This, together with our close customer relationship, allows us to react fast to a changing market environment or new trends.

How does the sales network in Europe look like?

Seoul Semiconductor is covering the market with an extremely professional and well educated team, which is growing continuously and which we will expand even further this year.

Our European headquarter is located in Munich, Germany, but we are also present in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Turkey and the United Kingdom. With this local presence all over Europe, we are able to work closely with our customers to create new and innovative solutions.

This is also supported by our regional technical teams and our Munich-based laboratory, where we can also develop customer-specific solutions for individual requests.

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