Several aspects are important for a business to be successful. First, because it is not known what exactly is to become successful, it is crucial to establish links between the fundamental and experimental sciences, in our case – a link with the National Research University of Electronic Technology. Second, technology is rapidly evolving and we should keep up with its advancement. Our multifunctional center for microelectronic production and the related functions are constantly developing new technology production both independently and in cooperation with partners, additionally equipping the process infrastructure. The third important aspect is the capacity to attract money to the project in a prompt manner, while the idea is still living and the market is offering demand. The fourth one is a spirit of innovation, interest and courage. The implementation of new ideas requires using many overlapping spheres, so only a successful mix of all these aspects helps to achieve success. In my opinion, the most important thing is an entrepreneurial spirit and the environment where this spirit is born.
What are the special features of ZNTC?
Our initial task was to create a comprehensive infrastructure and to provide start-ups with rental equipment. Additionally, we offer its maintenance. The implementation of this concept demonstrates that it has been successful in microelectronic manufacturing. Renting out a projection-photolithography unit costing several million dollars is hardly feasible, and nobody needs it because microelectronic start-ups and design centers need a full cycle of element manufacture. However, in biotechnology and medicine, which is our second area, it is possible to work using standalone equipment. Currently, we are investigating these options.
We strive to be a smart investor for startups. In other words, we contribute our technological, scientific and manufacturing expertise and establish cooperation links with the industry.
What do you think are the trends in microelectronics development?
We can highlight increased integration and miniaturization of devices, increased IC functionality (for example, through integration of mechanical, optical and biological systems), their performance enhancement and price reduction. Monitoring the global trends, ZNTC develops technologies for the creation of highly integrated units with comprehensive functions based on multichip modules and chip systems connecting the digital and analog elements with embedded non-volatile memory.
How difficult is it to deal with the development of high-tech businesses?
We operate in a capital-intensive industry that requires high-tech infrastructure and significant expenses at the initial design stages. For example, microelectronic prototyping and arrangement of a small-scale production requires high investments with no immediate results, therefore the risks are higher. However, you can succeed, indeed, subject to a thorough estimation of all expected costs and selection of a suitable business model. This is evidenced, in particular, by one of our startups – a company operating under the Picasso 3D brand, which manufactures 3D printers.
How difficult is it to find the money for high-tech innovations?
In my opinion, investment organizations need to focus more on pre-seed financing of fundamental and applied research that sets the stage of product release. This will form a reliable technological and experimental platform for further innovations, which will contribute to a more productive development of the scientific and technological industry in Russia by providing opportunities to create high-tech devices in a short time, as it is required by today’s investors.