UAB Optonas, a thirteenth-year-old manufacturer of optical components and coatings, is rapidly modernising after receipt of nearly EUR 4 million in EU investment for its projects under contracts with the Lithuanian Business Support Agency (LBSA).
According to the company’s founder and CEO, Gintas Jakubėnas, the support will enable the company to acquire high-tech equipment with the world’s highest precision capabilities in the production of coatings, automate production processes, expand the optical element inspection base and create sophisticated optical elements for global markets.

UAB Optonas’s products are advanced laser-quality optical coatings: metallic and dielectric, and of variable reflection. They are produced using electron beam evaporation, magnetron ion-assisted deposition and thermal evaporation technologies.
Some 95% of Optonas products are exported or sold to Lithuanian companies that produce lasers for the international market. The company’s main customers are specialised laser and laser optics manufacturing companies, and scientific institutions.

Development is necessary and inevitable
‘We are working in a dynamic market – lasers are improving, the requirements for the quality of the elements are increasing, and we have been working with several-decades-old equipment that requires a lot of manual work, most of which we purchased at the beginning of the business, disassembled, cleaned, reassembled them and put them into production’, says Jakubėnas.

Old equipment means slow growth and the risk of falling behind progress, so seeing the need to expand but lacking sufficient funds on its own, the company has attracted hedge funds, and the LBSA has recognised five Optonas projects as eligible for EU funding.

EUR 2 million in EU investment has been allocated for two projects under the measure ‘Industrial Digitisation LT’. The funds received help to implement production process equipment with integrated digital technologies.

New lasers with improved properties and parameters, unique optical dividers for lasers and ultraviolet laser optical elements were developed under the completed project ‘Intelligence. Joint Science-Business Solutions’. More than EUR 0.5 million in EU funding has contributed to this.

Nearly EUR 1 million of EU investment under the ‘Experiment’ (Eksperimentas) measure has been earmarked for new product development under the agreement with the LBSA, and another EUR 0.5 million of the ‘Eco-Innovation LT+’ budget has been allocated for the implementation of technological innovations. During the implementation of the latter project, the company will invest in the introduction of technological eco-innovations in the company’s operations, which will enable the production of products using less raw material, energy and harmful substances.

Gives life and rises to the heights
According to Saulius Merkys, Acting Director of the LBSA, forward-looking businesses see EU investment as one of the reliable instruments that strengthen their ability to grow and compete in the market.

‘For example, the Agency has signed 236 contracts for the implementation of industrial digitisation projects alone, with almost EUR 110 million in EU funding, and a total of EUR 1.361 billion in EU investment for the financial period 2014–2020 has been allocated to 3,431 projects’, said Agnė Vaitkūnienė, Director of Investment Service of the LSBA. According to her, the figures speak about both the businesses revived by investment and the new heights of their growth.

‘The LBSA’s support and trust in the viability of our ideas has allowed us to replace outdated machinery with modern equipment to develop new products, and to work more efficiently and environmentally friendly. We are convinced that it is much easier to achieve a goal with EU support, so I am sure that in the future we will try to get funding for other projects as well’, says Jakubėnas, Head of Optonas, sharing his future plans.

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