Dmitry Lovtsyus Deputy General Director, Intech Analytics JSC
This year was challenging for the Intech Analytics JSC as a major importer of the foreign vacuum equipment. The key factor is the difficult macroeconomic situation in the world and in our country, in particular a significant increase in foreign currencies exchange rates and a number of frozen government and commercial projects. At the beginning of the year, by analysing possible scenarios, we identified the company’s development area in the current market conditions. The focus was on timely restocking the top-selling kinds of our equipment taking into account six-month needs of our customers. In addition, we held rather complex negotiations with our suppliers to provide additional discounts to compensate the rouble depreciation and to slow down the increase in the retail price of goods. We also regularly conduct an aggressive marketing policy, and have begun to visit our customers more often to inform them about our capabilities and take a lot of effort to improve the quality of work and reduce delivery times. All this has increased the number of contracts and expanded the list of buyers and consequently provided revenue growth.
By dealing with a high number of companies as part of major state-owned corporations (Roscosmos, Rosatom, Rostec and others), we fix the prices for the equipment in Russian roubles as it is possible to entering into contracts with such customers only in the domestic currency. Nevertheless, we are engaged in complex and long-term projects; on the one hand, it greatly increases our risks, on the other, it helps us get more and more orders from budget-funded organisations. In my opinion, Russia’s vacuum market will develop in the future as the scope of application of this equipment ranges from academic institutions to test spacecraft and heavy metallurgy. At the moment, we are involved in the development of a number of major projects and have a large portfolio of orders for the next few years. Despite the decline in margins in 2014, we are optimistic about the development of the vacuum industry and our company in the future.
Alexey Alekseyev Director General of the SemiTEq JSC, Ph.D.
The outgoing year of 2014 can be characterised as difficult and productive for the SemiTEq JSC. In the first quarter, our company has introduced an updated series of STE ICP systems for inductively coupled plasma etching, intended for up to 8-inch wafers. New-generation units are based on a universal technology platform and allow you to implement a wide range of modern processes for etching of semiconductors and dielectrics, as well as for applying dielectric layers. Moreover, the new versatile magnetron sputtering system STE MS900, which is designed for various production-oriented processes and represents the classical thin-film technology, was added to the product line of SemiTEq PVD systems in the first half of the year. STE MS900 is especially designed for magnetron sputtering and resistive evaporation on a group of wafers, which is optimal for a number of production issues. I would like to note that all new models were configured primarily based on the Russian market’s demand. At the moment, we have made several deliveries and have quite a large portfolio of orders for these units in the medium term. Of course, the rapidly changing political context could not but influence our business development plans. The imposition of sanctions against Russia, primarily with respect to industry and high technologies will inevitably affect both producers and consumers of the special process equipment (SPE). At present it is difficult to assess how the market will be like in 2015-2016 as the economic situation has not yet stabilised. However, it should be noted that any losses are usually accompanied by benefits. Domestic special process equipment producers now have another chance to prove themselves opposing their development to foreign analogues which become much more expensive. Despite the challenging situation we have been able to significantly increase exports this year. In particular, the latest compact molecular-beam epitaxy system (MBE) STE75 was successfully installed at the University of Toronto (Canada), the MBE nitride system was retrofitted at our Indian partners SSPL (New Delhi), and some equipment supplies were initiated to Belarus under the Union State programmes. We plan to further improve the export potential as we can see that our products can successfully compete with the leading European and American brands. At present, in particular, we take part in several international tenders for the supply of MBE systems. However, in the medium term, SemiTEq JSC will focus primarily on retrofitting and upgrading the domestic electronic industry’s enterprises and also improving the level of service for our customers and partners. Our company has always positioned itself as a domestic producer of special process equipment and key components as evidenced by a large number of patents to prove original technical solutions. As part of the special process equipment lines already developed, we will continue to improve the design of key functional units and upgrade the manufacturing equipment localisation in general. I think that in any difficult situation due to a sharp change in external factors in the business environment, it is essential to identify your own strengths. Thanks to deliberate import substitution policy our government has now been able to provide a new impetus to the electronic industry and electronic engineering. This possibility may not be overlooked. A reasonable and balanced public policy will definitely lead to success and development of the domestic knowledge-intensive industries. Now business should strive to meet the market challenges.
Igor Yaminsky Director General of the Advanced Technologies Center Co., Professor of Lomonosov Moscow State University, D.Sc.
2014 proved to be fruitful in terms of unique process solutions. We managed to approach the serial production of the multifunctional scanning probe microscope FemtoScan X. Now the microscope feedback operates at 1 MHz, and 20-bit and 18-bit digital-to-analogue and analogue-to-digital converters also provide signals at the frequency of 1 MHz. In developing this model, we have not deviated from the proven concept, if you are going to make good electronics, you should choose the most advanced circuit design elements (microcontrollers, transformers, transistors, resistors, low-noise capacitors etc.). The price for parts is not that important as it will still be a small portion in the final price for research. The value of the idea and that of follow-on development of the idea to the product stage will increase significantly in the manufacture of high-tech products. This is indeed a new trend in the promotion of a highly intellectual society. The trained human resources provide a key condition for the successful promotion of high-tech manufacturing. There is a significant gap here. On the one hand, there is still the older generation with their outstanding practical experience in the last century’s technological breakthrough, whether it is about aerospace or nuclear power; on the other hand, over the past thirty years, a new generation has come out and successfully mastered the advanced computer technologies. But they do not have the technological and manufacturing expertise needed, especially for such an area as nanotechnology. Therefore, in 2014 we were undertaking a systematic effort to create the Nanotechnologies Youth innovation creativity centre (YICC) to let its participants gain practical knowledge and experience in production technologies. The key activities of the Nanotechnologies YICC are 3D-design, 3D digital machining centres, 3D printers and 3D scanning probe microscopes. More about the Nanotechnologies YICC can be found in publications in the Nanoindustry journal and on the website www.startinnovation.com. Creation of the technology training centre is a complex and difficult task but we believe that we coped with it well. The key to success of the Nanotechnologies YICC is the promotion of very close cooperation between the Lomonosov Moscow State University and the Advanced Technologies Center. One of the goals of the Centre is to first deliver hands-on training to students and then involve the students as teachers; it means that such a necessary and useful continuity will be preserved. This year we continued to work successfully with foreign partners including the leading global company LG Electronics, and have promoted closer technological and industrial cooperation between our companies, Advanced Technologies Center, Medical Nanotechnologies, Biosensor Academy, Energy-efficient technologies and Start of Innovations. Overall, in 2014 we produced more successful prototypes and models than batches and series of devices. Among the achievements is the creation of a 3D milling machining centre, the development of 3D-printers of our own design. What is in common between the scanning probe microscope and 3D-printer and 3D milling machining centre? At first glance, it may seem that these are completely different units but it is not so. In terms of technologies and solutions used in all the three units, the printer, centre and microscope, the key is to ensure accurate moving parts or samples in three dimensions, similar control electronics and software control algorithms, the rigid structure mechanics with a low temperature drift. In other words, we are going in the same direction but we extend the range. A key success in 2014 is our very close and fruitful collaboration with the Nanoindustry journal. We are willing to read and write with diligence. We wish you the same! Happy New Year! Success and new achievements!
Anatoly Kovalev Director General of Zelenograd Nanotechnology Center, D.Sc.
It was quite a successful year for the Zelenograd Nanotechnology Center (ZNTC), the production infrastructure was established, a line unparalleled in Russia to manufacture integrated circuits and microelectromechanical systems was launched after two years of preparatory activities. Currently, a technology for the production of microsystem technology items for partners is being worked out. As one of the leading Russian high-tech companies, we develop and manufacture products for nano- and microsystems technologies and related areas, provide foundry services to the domestic developers of electronics at affordable prices in roubles as well as technological services to businesses that do not have a closed technological cycle. This year we are actively developing new areas in adjacent segments, primarily in biotechnology and medicine. A combination of microelectronics and biotechnology is one of the most important global trends. As a venture investor, we attracted the teams with competence and understanding of the markets. Currently, the investment portfolio of ZNTC includes seven projects for the development of medical devices and systems; the necessary infrastructure for biotechnology projects has been established; the chemical, biological and analytical laboratories are equipped for the development and manufacture of medical devices. Installation of the year is a scanning probe microscope Cypher, which is rightly called the best in its class, and it remains the only one in Russia. We hope that the scanning probe microscopy services, such as the study of the structure and composition of semiconductors, biological, composite and nanostructured materials, will be in demand not only by our development team but also among the manufacturers of nanobiotechnology products. The nanocentre’s infrastructure is used as a springboard for the technology business accelerator and an "innovative lift" by providing access to research and prototyping facilities and small-quantity production. The general economic and political situation became one of the core issues in 2014. The key issue is not only and not so much integration into the global economic chains but import substitution and an attempt to create competitive products. ZNTC includes a development team, the main objective of which is to design electronic items of a wide range of applications. As far as the potential investment areas are concerned, in particular, it is worth mentioning the projects to implement new technological electronic solutions. These are 3D-technologies, creation of sophisticated vertically integrated systems (Through Silicon Via – TSV), which allow you to develop miniature products. Application of 3D-integration technologies will solve a number of issues related to the development and production of electronic components, which can be used not only in the special-purpose equipment but also in household gadgets and mobile devices. I would like to note that one of our companies has started to carry out a project in the field of 3D TSV in cooperation with Fraunhofer IZM in the framework of the Russian-German cooperation programme. The research findings will make it possible to create multifunctional microsystems at low cost for a new generation of smart phones, tablet computers, super computers and new units for the storage, processing and transmission of information. It seems to us important to attract foreign specialists in the projects as it ensures not only the exchange of knowledge but also the entry of our research outputs in foreign markets. Vertically integrated circuit technologies are now on trend and are of great interest as they open up new technology opportunities. This project will be integrated into the joint 3D TSV infrastructure programme of the nanocentre and Ruselectronics JSC. With regard to changes in the market, in my opinion, in recent years nanoindustry has developed towards the technology industrialisation. A pentalateral agreement is signed between ZNTC, the Micron group of companies, Ruselectronics JSC, National Research University of Electronic Technology and Zelenograd innovation and technology centre to promote the research, technical and production potential of the Russian microelectronics industry. Not even tens but hundreds of companies begin to interact in one form or another. So, ZNTC became a centre for prototyping for a number of large industrial companies. Industry needs such platforms as we have to test a particular technology and put it into production. ■