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Synergies and partnerships in the development of high-tech systems

Docter Optics SE, 27.03.2023

The Jena start-up IDloop was selected by the European Commission for funding of 10 million euros. This ensures the market entry of the world's first 3D scanner that takes contactless fingerprints in microscopic resolution. The cooperation with the medium-sized company Docter Optics was part of this success story. But what is special about this collaboration and what makes it different to other success stories?

In my opinion, investments in start-ups are made way too late," says Martin Enenkel, CEO of the Docter Optics Group. Larger companies hardly take any risks with investments and support start-ups or ideas usually not before the expansion stage. Especially in rural areas, founders often look in vain for support, for example from business angel investors.

The supposed risk for SMEs to get involved financially and in the form of a partnership seems too great. An investment in the early phase of a start-up has clear advantages for both sides that go beyond the only financial aspects. All it takes is a little courage and a keen sense of markets.

In the seed phase of company foundations, the new founders (m/f/d) focuses on the concretization of the idea, the product development, researches and the establishment of the business concept. Christiane Kilian, head of the Thuringia Foundation for Technology, Innovation and Research (STIFT), knows what the start-ups are missing: “Not all start-ups manage to enter the market on their own. They may have the ideas, the brains and speed, but the established companies have well-developed structures, experience, existing manufacturing processes and, above all, access to the markets.”

There is a lack of courage on both sides: The founders (m/f/d) to approach SMEs directly and actively ask for support; as well as for medium-sized companies, to see more in a start-up than "just" a financial investment with risks. The STIFT is working intensively in Thuringia to interlink both worlds and offers with various programs support for both sides.

The cooperation between IDloop and Docter Optics is an excellent example of the symbiosis between start-ups and medium-sized companies. Docter Optics not only invested money in a business idea, but also contributed knowledge transfer, know-how and experience in the market introduction of high-tech products to a very conservative and specialized market. IDloop was able to rely on the more than 30 years of experience of its partner as a specialist in the development and industrial production of optical systems. With the security of an experienced business partner at its side, the young company was able to focus to the important steps at the beginning of the foundation: the optimization and the final development of the product. For example, the transfer of the prototype to series production was taken into account in the design phase of the product, the product was optimized and the best conditions for market entry were created.

This in turn strengthens and substantiates the business plan and helps with the initial marketing of the idea. A concept that is now bearing fruit for IDloop and offers Docter Optics the opportunity to jointly open up new markets and participate in great innovations within the industry. This offers customers access to innovative and sustainable market solutions – a mutual learning with benefits and foresight.

"The basis for success stories is, if you work together openly, honestly, loyally and transparently," says Christiane Kilian.

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