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EETE SEPTEMBER 2012

NEWS & TECHNOLOGY OPTOELECTRONICS Optogan’s formula for success: Russian IP, German manufacturing By Christoph Hammerschmidt In tHe gloBalIzed business of led manufacturing, large Asian and American companies define the rules and set the pace. european competitors such as osram and Philips struggle to keep up. Unusually enough in the semiconductor business, Russian company optogan does not only join in but it keeps growing. With optogan general Manager global Sales & Marketing, Markus zeiler, ee times europe discussed the com- pany’s recipe for success in this highly competitive market. EETimes Europe: It is rather uncommon that a company with Russian roots succeeds in Western europe’s high tech markets. What is the story behind optogan? Markus zeiler: the company has been launched 2004 in Helsinki by three Russian physicists and entrepreneurs who formerly worked at the Joffe Institute, one of the world’s leading insti- tutes in the field of solid state physics. At the Joffe institute where nobel laureate zhores Ivanovich alferov worked at the professorship, they conducted breakthrough research on epi- taxy for led crystals. they also worked for Western companies and were involved in the development of epitaxy processes for blue LEDs. From there, they filed for their first patents and launched their first company. as early as 2005 they moved to dortmund, germany. In the be- ginning, the company was funded by a Finnish venture capital. Later, they also received financial support from Denmark and the EU. After a couple of years, the first large investors joined in. one of them was Unixim, a Russian VC fund; another was the Russian nanotechnology fund Rusnano. thus, the seat of the company moved to St. Petersburg from where it staged market entry in Russia. about one and a half year ago, I accepted the Stages the international expansion for LED manufacturer task of shaping optogan’s international market appearance. Optogan: Markus Zeiler, General Manager Global Sales & Marketing We are a european company with locations in Russia, Fin- land and germany; we run our semiconductor production in Landshut in Bavaria. This is a clear differentiator against our EETimes Europe: Innovation is not sufficient in itself. Could you competitors in asia, and our customers reward this approach. elaborate your approach? Within twelve months we received more then 500 inquiries from distributors across europe, enabling us to select the ones that M. zeiler: our chip technology is based on IP from the profes- best suit us. Recently we launched operations in Italy, Romania sorship of professor alferow – nobel award technology, if you and turkey. We’re making progress. will. With this basis we can well compete in the market, and we further develop it with subsidies from Skolkovo, in a sense EETimes Europe: It is certainly not easy to assert oneself against the Russian pendant of the Silicon Valley. our unit there, “new asian competitors who produce in very high quantities, driving technologies of light”, is conducting research and development price levels down, sometimes with politics coming into play. for a kind of “People’s led lamp” – a highly integrated solution at a low price level. M. zeiler: Sure, it is a challenge. We build our strategy on in- novation and quality. Customers increasingly find out that not In this context it is certainly a relevant factor that in Russia the all LEDs are equal and that quality makes a difference. And we so called “energy saving lamp”, the CCFl, never was a market combine quality with slim, cost-effective manufacturing pro- success, its market share never climbed above 4 percent. For cesses. Being cost-conscious is a precondition if you manufac- this reason, the Russians migrate from the incandescent bulb ture in Germany, but we also offer modular product concepts to directly to the led. this is a huge open market, in particular for make things easy for our customers. highly integrated solutions. 8 Electronic Engineering Times Europe September 2012 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE SEPTEMBER 2012
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