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Letter To The Shareholders

To all shareholders ,

2021 Business Report

The COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect the global economy and environment in 2021. Faced with the uncertain development of the epidemic, the company faced challenges in operation management, production and shipping, and supply chain scheduling. Still, based on good and efficient operations, E Ink saw significant growth during 2021. Consolidated revenues of NT$19.65 billion was reported by E Ink in 2021, a 9-year high. Operating margin of 15.4%, net profit margin of 26.2%, net income after tax of NT$5.15 billion and earnings per share (EPS) of NT$4.53 also reached a ten-year high.

Looking back at business development in 2021, distance learning and work from home, and stay-at-home economy trends continued to drive growth in the eReader and eNote businesses. The zero-contact economy continued to accelerate the digital transformation of the retail industry as well, boosting the demand for electronic shelf labels (ESL). In response to the growth prospects of the ePaper industry, the Board passed a resolution in 2021 to add two more production lines in Hsinchu. If the expansion plan announced in 2020 is taken into account, there will be a total of 4 production lines to meet future demand from a growing market. At the same time, in June 2021, we expanded capacity in Yangzhou to develop upstream material of e-paper modules, and in October 2021, we expanded Ink capacity in US, and in December 2021, we constructed a new administrative building and multi-story carpark in Hsinchu Taiwan to meet the expansion of capacity and workforce.

eReaders and eNotes are used in smart education, smart office, digital reading and note-taking applications. The launch of the new E Ink Kaleido™ Plus print color e-paper technology with enhanced optical performance and larger screen sizes enables our customers to create products that are closer to the reading experience of printed books and lead consumers to get new products.

In retail applications, ESL with dynamic displays can achieve real-time synchronization of online and offline price promotions. It not only replaces single-use printed price labels but also improves the operating efficiency of retail stores by simplifying the price changing process. To meet the demand for color marketing from retailers, e-paper has evolved from monochrome to the 3-colors (black/white/red or black/white/yellow) E Ink Spectra™ 3000. The launch of E Ink Spectra 3100™ 4-color e-paper (black, white, red, and yellow) in 2021 provided retailers with a more diverse product combinations. New retail and zero-contact economy not only accelerated the digital transformation of the retail industry but also speed up the introduction of ESL, driving the growth momentum of retail applications. Now that issues such as low-carbon and environmental sustainability are important to all industries, replacing single-use printed price labels with ESL and reducing the demand for power consumption through e-paper with low-power consumption and continuous non-power display can help retailers introduce digital solutions with ESG sustainability value.

For digital signage, an Internet-of-Things (IoT) application, e-paper with its ultra-low power consumption, continuous non-power display, and visibility under sunlight combined with solar power and energy storage systems can operate in the mode of zero-carbon emission So that the development of smart city can be done without additional power consumption, bringing product value in sustainable environmental development. E Ink will continue to work with ecosystem partners on large size and color e-paper products to develop the market for smart cities and smart healthcare applications.

To expand and strengthen the development of ePaper industry, E Ink is working with e-paper ecosystem partners to develop new e-paper applications. The “E-Paper Industry Alliance” (EPIA) platform was therefore set up in partnership with China-based panel maker BOE and Jiangxi Holitech. The platform will focus on eight key applications, including smart education, smart office, smart retail, smart transport, smart logistics, smart factory, smart healthcare, and smart civil aviation. E Ink will work with alliance members through the EPIA platform to build up the overall supply chain layout and develop e-paper markets and applications. Together, we will promote the sustainable growth in the e-paper industry.

Product developments in 2021 included continuous investment in R&D in color e-paper technology. Our three main color e-paper technologies - E Ink Kaleido™ Plus print color e-paper, E Ink Spectra™ 3100 4-color e-paper, and E Ink Gallery™ advanced color e-paper - are all in mass production. These three distinct color e-paper technologies cater for the product design and market needs of its ecosystem partners in different fields and will continue to drive business growth. These included:

  • E Ink Kaleido™ Plus offers a warm color display that can be used for playing animations or videos, suitable for textbooks and illustrated books in education field. It provides new digital reading and writing options for professional applications as well. The E Ink Kaleido™ Plus e-paper module was also presented with the “Paper-like” quality mark and China-mark certifications by TÜV Rheinland Greater China. It is also the first e-paper display module to obtain this certification. Like traditional paper, e-paper doesn't need a backlight source. There is no light source directly to the viewer’s eyes making it the most paper-like and eye-protecting display available.
  • E Ink Spectra™ 3100 4-color e-paper features warm and highly saturated colors that can be used in ESL and marketing signage, providing rich advertising content to meet the need for color marketing from retailers as well as an optional feature that flickers during screen changes for a more flexible, eye-catching effect.
  • E Ink Gallery™ uses E Ink ACeP™ full-color e-paper display technology to create paper-like texture and full color display so that the advanced color e-paper has the visual effect of printed posters. Suitable applications includes public signage, commercial advertising signage, and digital display media at museums and galleries.
To help realize the sustainable development goal of net zero carbon emissions worldwide, E Ink is actively promoting low-carbon display benefits of ePaper application. We hope to introduce eco-friendly ePaper applications to more smart applications.
  • eReader: Around 130 million eReaders have been used worldwide over the last five years. The purchase and reading of printed books are now being replaced by digital reading. Assuming that each of the 130 million eReaders download 10 books a year, reading those books in print or on a LCD tablet will generate 100,000 times or 50 times the CO2 emissions of reading the same books on an eReader.
  • Electronic Shelf Labels: The 3” ESL is the most common type in use and 600 million labels were installed around the world over the past seven years. If pricing is changed four times a day, disposable printed labels will generate 32,000 times the carbon emissions of ESL.
    If there are 30 million 10” digital signage around the world, electricity consumption by LCD signage produces 12,000 times more CO2 emissions than ePaper signage over five years. The use of low-carbon, dynamic display and paper-like digital signage can reduce CO2 emissions up to 60,000 times compared to disposable printed paper.
  • ePaper Bus Stop Sign: Taking bus stop signs in major cities in Taiwan as an example, if we introduce smart bus stop sign solutions at all 64,000 bus stops, the solar-powered ePaper bus stop signs will produce net zero emissions over the course of five years. Smart bus stop signs that use LCD monitors will generate 200,000 tons of carbon emissions by comparison. Based on Taiwan’s proposed carbon fee of US$10 per ton, the carbon pricing benefits of ePaper bus stop signs compared to LCD signage is estimated to exceed NT$55 million.
  • Digital Signage: Preliminary statistics of factory correction and operation investigation published in 2021 by the Department of Statistics, Ministry of Economic Affairs, indicated that there were 90,763 active manufacturing factories in Taiwan. If each factory used ten 32” digital manufacturing data displays, a total of 900,000 units and if all used ePaper signage, their total consumption after five years would only amount to 20,000 tons. If LCD signage were to be used for five years, electricity consumption will generate 400,000 tons of CO2 emissions, or 20 times more than digital signage. Based on Taiwan’s proposed carbon fee of US$10 per ton, the carbon pricing benefits of digital signage will exceed that of LCD signage by more than NT$100 million.
The protection and management of R&D patents at E Ink are being strengthened to keep pace with advances in e-paper technology. In 2021, E Ink completed the Taiwan Intellectual Property Management System (TIPS) certification process. E Ink will continue to protect patents, R&D technology, and business secrets against the risk of infringement or disclosure from a knowledge and risk management perspective.
E Ink partnered with Nuclera, a biotech company, to work on digital microfluidics (DMF), a critical technology involved in e-paper manufacturing. The partnership is aimed to diversify applications of e-paper related technologies. E Ink Corp., the US subsidiary of E Ink, merged its DMF team with the US subsidiary of Nuclera (Nuclera Nucleics ltd.) in return for a stake in the company and became the largest strategic shareholder of Nuclera. When DMF technology is combined with Nuclera biopolymer synthesis technology, this advanced lab-on-a-chip technology allows users to digitally program a synthetic bioprinting system for proteins and genes on a desktop device in less than a day.

At the same time, E Ink’s continued refinement of our R&D capability has been recognized by science and technology awards. In 2021, E Ink Kaleido™ Plus print color e-paper technology won the 30th Taiwan Excellence Silver Award; E Ink Spectra 3100™ All-in-One Driver IC won the “2021 Computex Best Choice Award - IC & Components.” The awards recognized the R&D prowess of E Ink in e-paper technology.

For its continued commitment in ESG sustainability, E Ink won the 2021 Asia Responsible Enterprise Awards (AREA) for the first time and was awarded two international awards of “Green Leadership” and “Investment in People”. E Ink also won the “Corporate Sustainability Report Award – Gold Award in IT & IC Manufacturing” from TCSA Taiwan Enterprise Sustainability Award for the 5th consecutive year and was awarded “Taiwan Enterprise Sustainability Award” and “Best Practice Award - Growth through Innovation Award”. E Ink was also included in The Sustainability Yearbook 2022 for the first time by coming in the top 10% of the electronic equipment, instruments, and components industry of the S&P Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment. At the same time, E Ink was included in three ESG-related indices by TPEx, including the TIP Taiwan TPEx ESG Index, the TIP Customized TPEx ESG IT Elite Total Return Index, and the TIP Customized TPEx ESG Growth Total Return Index. E Ink also won the “Best Companies to Work for in Asia 2021” by HR Asia, the leading international human resources periodical, recognizing E Ink’s investment in three areas: talent development, compensation and benefits, and friendly workplace. The awards and indices all reflected the outstanding performance of E Ink in environmental sustainability, social inclusion and corporate governance.

ESG sustainable development goals consider mitigating the environmental impact of climate change to be the duty of global citizens. National governments and enterprises around the world are now rushing to support environmental sustainability actions such as Net Zero Carbon Emissions, Carbon Neutrality, or Climate Neutrality. In May 2021, E Ink became the first enterprise in Taiwan to fulfill our statutory obligation as a major power user under the Renewable Energy Development Act by using renewable energy for 10% of installed capacity at our Hsinchu plant. Three milestones were also set for 2021, namely achieving 40% renewable energy consumption by 2025, realizing the RE100 goal by using 100% renewable energy by 2030, and fulfilling our commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2040 in support of environmentally sustainable development.

2022 Business Focus

The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to challenge economic and environmental development to a certain extent in 2022. As E Ink prepares to enter its 30th year of operation, innovations in color e-paper technology and the creation of low-carbon green products will continue to drive the company’s continuous growth and sustainable development with the strategy of “Profitability + Sustainability”; increase investment in e-paper material technology and build e-paper material supply chain; expansion of e-paper ecosystem and e-paper alliance; expand supply chain participation to build and stabilize e-paper production capacity; profitability will be enhanced through improvement of business performance, strengthening of R&D capabilities, and optimization of business model. Sustainability practices will also be carried out to strengthen business sustainability.

Based on the existing eReaders, eNotes, retail and IoT applications, the company will actively work with partners to expand the e-paper ecosystem and invent more diversified applications of e-paper products. Solid product R&D capacity will help meet the market demand for various applications, from “E Ink on Every Smart Surface” to the goal of “We Make Surfaces Smart & Green.” Significant advances have been made on color, large size and folding eReaders. Meanwhile, paper like products such as eNotes with pen have been launched as well and steady market growth is expected. The release of more color products for retail applications, the completion of the ecosystem, and the help of various subjective and objective factors have also contributed to continuous market growth. Business continues to expand from module sales to e-paper film and material sales as well to meet increasing demand from customers and applications. The IoT business is evolving towards both large and small size. The introduction of color large signage will better meet the needs of healthcare and transportation. Demand from application markets such as small logistics tags and smart factories should generate sustainable growth as well. E Ink’s continued expansion of e-paper applications and markets have fueled company growth. In February 2022, E Ink was included in the MSCI Global Standard Index, affirming our focus and commitment on the development of the e-paper market.

In terms of new technologies, E Ink is continuing to refine its color ePaper technology. Major upgrades were made to the three main color ePaper technologies in 2022 to expand application in the smart field.

  • E Ink Gallery™ Plus Full Color ePaper: Indoor commercial signage for department stores and restaurants; public signage and information displays for MRT, airports, etc. The display color Gamut* can be up to 60,000 colors, and the color contrast is improved by 40% compared to the original technology. Contrast ratio is increased from 10 in the first generation to 14.
  • E Ink Gallery™ 3 Full Color ePaper: Resolution is increased from 150 ppi in the first generation to 300 ppi. The refresh rate for color display is greatly improved. In fast color display mode, refresh rate is 500ms; in standard mode,750 to 1,000 ms; in best color mode, 1,500 ms. The technology is suitable for displaying digital content with rich colors such as illustrated books, text books and magazines. Digital handwriting and touch control functionality can also be integrated to build a full color eNote that delivers color digital note-taking and sketching functions.
  • E Ink Kaleido™ 3 Print Color ePaper: Color saturation and brightness was enhanced through optimization of the ePaper module design. The 30% improvement in color saturation over the previous generation of technology, presenting more vivid colors and clear text display. Visual clarity is also improved. The warm color display performance and E Ink ComfortGaze front light technology reduces the amount of blue light reflected from the display surface. The technology is suitable for devices that display rich image information such as forms, maps, images, text books and advertising. Applications include smart education and digital reading platforms.
  • E Ink Spectra™ 3100 Plus 5-Color ePaper: The five vivid saturated colors of black, white, red, yellow and orange combined with E Ink Sparkle™ dynamic flashing technology can present more eye-catching images and animation effects. Retailers can use the technology to add more attention-grabbing effects to their color advertising.

Technology development, in addition to continuous improvement of the development of color ePaper, also focus on ePaper technology and materials R&D. Technologies of interest include ePaper film and materials, color, flexibility, and those needed by the ePaper ecosystem. We will focus on four key R&D resources, such as wireless power supply, ePaper timing controller chip, and product reference design. Comprehensive layout of ePaper related patents and speed up commercial licensing and mass production for the end-user market. At the same time, R&D on e-paper module manufacture will be promoted to provide ecosystem partners with better e-paper modules technology reference and support the development of the e-paper industry. We will continue to build on the existing technical advantages of e-paper such as low power consumption and environmental friendliness. Develop technologies related to reduction of layering, less materials and energy saving. Products with even lower carbon footprints will be created on the basis of carbon reduction, energy saving, recycling and innovation in order to contribute to environmental sustainability.

Operation management will concentrate on expansion of production capacity and establishment of material production capability to meet the demands of a growing market. Production will take full advantage of global production and strengthen the introduction of automation. This will not only shorten the production cycle and improve operation efficiency but also enhance product competitiveness and shorten their time-to-market. Procurement logistics will focus on supply chain cooperation and engagement. The flexibility and resilience of the e-paper supply chain will be reinforced in response to a rapidly changing external environment. Business management must pay attention to key topics such as sustainability development, human rights, and job safety. The goal of net zero carbon emissions and renewable energy in response to climate change is also a concern for production, procurement and collaboration with the supply chain.

Future Prospects

External factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, international politics, climate change, energy access, human resource and information security are all important issues that E Ink must face and respond to in its pursuit of growth and sustainability. E Ink continues to set management strategies based on rigorous processes and controls. Operational flexibility and efficiency will be ensured through incorporating diverse views and enhancing decision-making efficiency. Entering the AI IoT era (AIoT) and implementation of the ESG sustainability development vision, E Ink will leverage energy saving and eco-friendly e-paper to launch smart, ultra-low power e-paper products with ecosystem partners. It will not only facilitate the introduction of smart devices in various fields but also reduce electricity consumption and encourage enterprises and institutions to focus on the goal of net zero carbon emissions. At the same time, E Ink will enhance R&D and production with precise and efficient operation management. We will also keep close contact with customers and supply chain partners to ensure the smooth production and shipment of e-Paper. In addition to steadily building the growth momentum of the company, we also use e-paper technology and applications to support the development of a sustainable, smart “paper-less” environment.

Best regards,

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