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ASE Optics Europe: the (night) vision as a service
This company works for medical and life sciences sector companies and aims to launch its own products for the defense and security industry.
Know if you will have skin cancer through an image. Improved visualization of the larynx and throat when performing intubations or capturing three-dimensional images of fossils without breaking the rock in which they are embedded. Achieving these improvements is what ASE Optics Europe does: a company that designs and develops custom optical systems and offers support in optical engineering for companies and research centers for their product development. In addition, the company will launch its own product: night vision systems for defense and security.
“The startup was born six years ago with the aim of being a leading company in optical design and engineering, to serve other companies and help them to develop their products in the field of optics and photonics”, explains Andrés Cifuentes, CEO and one of the founder of ASE Optics. With this idea in mind, the two founders of the company began working on various projects related to medical instrumentation or scientific research projects.
Solutions for medical industry and life sciences.
One project in which ASE Optics has collaborated for medical industry is the development of a dermatoscope, an instrument capable of capturing images that simulate a cut inside the skin to help doctors to detect in advance the possibility of a developing a skin cancer.
In addition, the company has also collaborated in a project to improve the optical system of a laryngoscope, used when performing intubations. “”It is very useful for a doctor performing an emergency intubation which presents complications, or when due to the patient’s characteristics it is difficult to intubate and visual assistance is needed”, explains Cifuentes, because in some cases, when performing intubations, there exists a risk that the tube will be diverted to the lungs or to the stomach.
But ASE Optics has not only collaborated on projects in the field of medicine; in the field of archeology, this start-up participated in a project to develop three unique optical systems (objectives lens) to capture images in three dimensions of fossils without having to break the rock where they were.
“The core of ASE Optics is still to provide other companies with our service in optical design and engineering, but two years ago we were looking forward to growing”.
“We have a wide variety of customers and projects, but companies from medical and life sciences industry have the greatest impact,” says the CEO.
New Business Lines
About two and a half years ago, ASE Optics saw the possibility of expanding its business by launching its own products. Its participation in the European R & D project FaBiMed gave them innovative ideas; thanks to this project, ASE Optics created a patented inspection and metrology system for microdevices and microfluidics chips, which are used primarily for blood tests and diagnostics (POC).
“Our task was to inspect these chips when they are on the production line, to ensure they have the right quality,” explains Cifuentes.
“The core of ASE Optics is still to provide other companies with our service in optical design and engineering, but two years ago we were looking forward to growing”, remarks Andrés. For this reason, ASE Optics participated in the Barcelona Mentoring Program organized by Barcelona Activa, to receive an advice to develop and launch the new business model.
“Now we face one of the biggest challenges for us: to get funding to help us in the next step of our project”
Another market opportunity that ASE Optics Europe has found is to provide better Night Vision Systems for Security and Defense: ASE Optics has designed a better optical system, with improved performance. The new products are night vision goggles, adapted for mounting to the users’ helmet , and a monocular night vision system. The optical system has been developed entirely by the company in Barcelona, which is composed of eight workers. Currently, ASE Optics Europe is in the process of launching this new business unit and aims to present the first commercial equipment by the end of the year, and start the commercialization in Spain and the rest of the world.
The company has been financed through its own resources, reinvesting all the benefits obtained from its activity and, also, with the aid of the European R & D programs. Even so, ASE Optics Europe is looking for new financing routes to launch the new business lines planned, both the one focused on inspection systems for microfluidics chips and microdevices, for which it needs funds and partners for its commercialization; as for night vision equipment. “We are considering the option of get funding from bank financing or, perhaps, looking for an investor – partner to help us in the next step, but this is a great challenge”, concludes Cifuentes.
This is a translation of the original article, which was written by Paula Amer, and it was published on Thursday 5th October, at 05:30 p.m. in VIA EMPRESA (online journal).