Engineering Entrepreneurship: ASE Optics Europe Director Andres Cifuentes Speaks to CD6 on Creating Opportunities

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Andres Cifuentes, Director of ASE Optics Europe, a new optical engineering services company based in Barcelona, spoke this month at CD6, the Centre for Sensors, Instruments and Systems Development, on creating opportunities in technology. Cifuentes shared his story with an audience of PhD students and researchers along with new and experienced entrepreneurs.

ASE Optics Europe offers lens design, lens assembly design and engineering, prototyping, and small volume lenses and assemblies.

ASE Optics Europe provides optical engineering services to technology companies in Europe.

Andres Cifuentes, Director of ASE Optics Europe, a new optical engineering services company based in Barcelona, spoke this month at CD6, the Centre for Sensors, Instruments and Systems Development, on creating opportunities in technology. Cifuentes shared his story with an audience of PhD students and researchers along with new and experienced entrepreneurs.

CD6 Professor, Josep Arasa Marti, an entrepreneur himself, states, “While the news is filled with talk of our economy and record unemployment, we see entrepreneurs like Andres creating growth opportunities for themselves and others. It’s important for our students and member entrepreneurs to hear that. Andres approached this risk and opportunity as an engineer: he carefully assessed the opportunity and determined market demand and his personal capability for running a start-up. There’s a lot our students can learn from him.”

Before striking out on his own, Cifuentes served as the Cluster Manager for SECPhO, working with other emerging growth optics and technology companies. Cifuentes partnered with US-based Rochester Precision Optics (RPO) and ASE Optics to create a European presence. Many questioned his timing: Spain faced record unemployment and uncertainty, and Cifuentes already balances a young family while pursuing his PhD in optical engineering.

Cifuentes says, “Starting an engineering firm is a difficult decision, especially with such uncertainty in the country, budget cuts in both public and private sectors… but at the end of the day, optics will be key technology for many innovative industries not traditionally strong in optical engineering, so the opportunities are there for optical engineering firms. The differentiating factor was to assure value from design to manufacturing and assembly. That’s when RPO and ASE Optics came in.”

ASE Optics Europe launched in late May, and is already providing optical and opto-mechanical engineering services for technology companies in industries like medical devices, biotechnology, industrial and automotive.
ASE Optics Europe leverages the business structure of its US-based parent company. Prototyping capabilities, cleanroom, and extensive metrology help Cifuentes speed his customers’ time to market. The start-up’s rapid success is also due to Cifuentes’ track record of optical design wins with local customers.

The keys to the quick launch and early successes of ASE Optics Europe? Cifuentes credits:

  •     Cultural fit with partners: a commitment to the customer and other shared values
  •     Clear process: ASE Optics Europe helps companies go to market faster. To do that, our own engineering process needs to be lean.
  •     Access to specialty talent & equipment: Cifuentes chose to partner with RPO & ASE to quickly tap a depth and breadth of engineering capabilities and facilities other lens designers and optical engineering firms cannot.
  •     Local environment: Around the CD6 there have already been 4 spin-off companies and three start-ups from ex-students (including ASE). Together with the Master in Photonics program, this is a clear motivational factor and also allows for local industry support and also for scouting talent.

“In meeting the RPO and ASE team, I knew that these were the caliber of people I want to partner with. The companies I’ve worked with here in Spain and throughout Europe need sophisticated, systems-level engineering help, and I’m pleased to lead a company that can provide that.”

About ASE Optics Europe
ASE Optics Europe was founded to support European customers whose engineering teams are overburdened or short on optical engineering capability, and whose product development schedules and product performance can benefit from additional optical engineering resources. ASE Optics Europe offers lens design, lens assembly design and engineering, prototyping, and small volume lenses and assemblies. ASE also offers a Discovery Service, 20 hours of engineering for 1950€. The Discovery Service can determine feasibility, define a problem, or even identify a solution to a well-defined problem. ASE Optics Europe is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rochester Precision Optics. Visit http://www.aseoptics.eu to learn more.

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