Optogard Nanotech, a resident startup of the Skolkovo Foundation, has raised 110 million rubles ($1.8 million) in financing from Garant, a group investing in industrial projects. Under the terms of the deal, the investors and company founders have become partners, giving Garant a stake in the company.

Pavel Smirnov, general director of Optogard Nanotech, which develops laser-plasma technology. Photo: Sk.ru.

Optogard Nanotech has developed a laser-plasma technology for strengthening the surfaces of metals and alloys, such as the inside of pipes. The project with Garant will see the assembly from scratch of a multifunctional laser-plasma operations line, its industrial test launch and later move to the Nizhny Novgorod region.

“The key success of the deal is that the company is not just gaining a source of financing in its investors, but fully-fledged members of the team,” said Pavel Smirnov, general director of Optogard Nanotech, a resident of Skolkovo’s advanced manufacturing, nuclear and space technologies cluster.

“Our agreement shows that a culture is appearing in Russia of investing in hi-tech industrial projects. Ultimately, this will lead to Russian industry getting on the track to innovative development,” he said.

The project with Garant is being carried out on the premises of the Institute of Laser Physics of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Optogard Nanotech is already training specialists there who will later use the technology at industrial production lines, and is looking for premises for the latter. 

Anton Pushkov, managing partner at Skolkovo's Intellectual Property Centre. Photo: Sk.ru.

Investing in Optogard Nanotech’s project is a logical move towards the innovative development of Russian industry, said Elena Grechikhina, financial director at Garant.

“We appreciated the project’s potential and the Optogard team’s level of professionalism, so our decision to become active participants in this project wasn’t long in coming,” she said.

“Our aim is not just to make a profit, but to launch full-scale, highly profitable innovative manufacturing based on Optogard’s laser-plasma technology. We see great potential in the creation of laser-plasma facilities, and plan to actively introduce them to various branches of industry both in Russia and on foreign markets,” she added.

Skolkovo’s Intellectual Property Centre (IPC) helped to structure the deal and provided legal support for it throughout the process.

“The deal was simple on one hand, and incredibly complex on the other,” said Anton Pushkov, a managing partner of the IPC.

“The simplicity lay in the investors’ interest in concluding the deal, the speed with which they took decisions, and their lack of impossible or unreasonable demands regarding the Skolkovo startup. The complexity lay in the serious sum of target financing being provided by the investors, which required meticulous work on each document relating to the deal to make sure the interests of each side were being taking into account,” said Pushkov.