Company Background and Structure

Kovio, Incorporated is a privately owned company specialized in printed silicon electronics with a single location in Milpitas, California. The company combines high-performance silicon inks with low cost graphics printing technologies to design, develop and manufacture silicon-based products and solutions for the Near Field Communication (NFC) and Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) markets. The company’s development of affordable radio frequency (RF) barcodes make it practical to apply real-time personalized permission marketing to mass-market consumer products, a revolutionary development that can help manufacturers reduce shrinkage while improving operational efficiency and consumer satisfaction (1a).

Position in the Nanotechnology Value Chain

Kovio manufactures nanointermediate semiconductor devices based on their proprietary silicon printing innovations. Kovio has extended their technologies to produce nano-enabled component products that revolutionize the emerging NFC market. Using their printed silicon technology platform, Kovio has developed a patented radio-frequency identification (RFID) platform for item-level intelligence and the world’s first silicon-based RFID wireless tags used for the automatic identification and tracking of physical goods (2).


Kovio's RF Barcodes are printed utilizing their proprietary silicon inks and high-performance graphics printing technologies. They are designed to affordably and securely enable a wide range of digital information for everyday consumer products, including product details, direct access to Web sites, nutritional information or even promotional programs. The digital information that is enabled by Kovio RF Barcodes and accessed through ubiquitous mediums such as the mobile phone, creates new opportunities in promotions and authentication at the item-level, enabling a new communication medium for brands and retailers to interact with consumers at the point of sale (4).

In 2007, Kovio introduced the first all-printed high-performance silicon thin-film transistor (TFT) based on breakthroughs in nanotechnology and materials science. By combining functional electronic inks (including silicon, doped silicon, metals, and insulators) with high-resolution graphics printing technologies, Kovio has printed high-performance silicon TFTs at a fraction of the cost of conventional lithography-based silicon technology. The significantly lower cost is possible as a result of additive digital printing processes, lower capital expenditures and faster cycle time (5).

Buyers and Suppliers

Kovio partners with and sells to brands, retailers, mobile network operators, game and content providers, advertising and marketing agencies, and government agencies. Specific partners and customers include Cubic, Access, Inside Secure, Nissan Chemical Industries, LTD.,  Toppan Forms, Tyco (1b). Buyers have the option to purchase the RF Barcode tag directly along with a development kit, or they can buy customized, process-ready tag solutions in the form of cards, stickers, posters and wet and dry inlays for a wide range of NFC and ticketing applications.

Strategic Partners

In 2010, Kovio entered a joint collaboration and development agreement with Japanese chemical company Nissan Chemical Industries, Ltd. (NCI) through which NCI agreed to supply Kovio with silicon inks in high quantities. In January 2012, INSIDE Secure, a leading semiconductor solutions firm, became the first manufacturer of NFC solutions supporting Kovio’s low-cost RF Barcodes. Consumers will soon be able to interact with smart labels on products and smart posters to receive product details, promotional offers, and other useful information using a mobile phone or other device powered by INSIDE’s supportive hardware (3).

Kovio's investors are Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Bessemer Venture Partners, Duff Ackerman & Goodrich Ventures, Flagship Ventures, Harris & Harris Group, Jerusalem Venture Partners, Mitsui Ventures, Northgate Capital, Panasonic Venture Group, Pangaea Ventures, Pinnacle Ventures, Toppan Forms and Yasuda Enterprise Development (4).

For more information, see the Kovio location page.


  1. Kovio, Inc. (2012). Retrieved on March 17, 2012
    1. www.kovio.com
    2. www.kovio.com/why_partner_brands.html
  2. AZoNano (2008, October 20). “Kovio Announces Development of World’s First Printed Silicon RFID Platform.”  Retrieved March 17, 2012 from www.azonano.com/news.aspx?newsID=8195
  3. Enhanced Online News (2012, January 18). "INSIDE Secure NFC Solutions Now Kovio RF Barcode Ready."  Retrieved March 17, 2012 from http://eon.businesswire.com/news/eon/20120118005361/en/Secure-NFC-Solutions-Kovio-RF-Barcode-Ready
  4. Nanotechnology Now (2009, July 14).  “Kovio Raises $20 Million in Venture Capital to Ship RF Barcodes.” Retrieved September 11, 2012 from www.nanotech-now.com/news.cgi?story_id=33888
  5. Nanowerk (2007, November 13). “Game-Changing Printed Electronics Technology Announced.” Retrieved September 11, 2012 from www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=3293.php