THE ANGLO-GERMAN FOUNDATION FOR THE STUDY OF INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY (AGF)
(an Institution of the British and the German Government)
“Development of new technology-based firms (NTBFs) in the Federal Republic of Germany and in Great Britain” (July 1976)
CASE HISTORY V – FEDERAL REPUBLIC
1. The Lewicki Story
Dipl.-Ing. Andreas Lewicki (41) represents a rather unique blend of technological innovation, ambition, meticulous planning and complete dedication to the business. Lewicki’s family has a tradition extending back over generations of distinguished professorships in various German universities. His father was the first exception to this tradition in being a technical sales director with Siemens in charge of building up new sales outlets. Through his father’s work, Lewicki was exposed carly on to electronics and physics and subsequently studied communications, precision mechanics, chemistry and patent law at the technical university of Munich (1954-1959). From the outset, Lewicki planned his education and professional development with the objective of becoming either independent or an industrial executive.
Following his university education, Andreas Lewicki joined AEG-Telefunken as a trainee (1960-1961) where he received a broad exposure for two years to most functional aspects of the organisation. At the end of this training period, he still had dual career objectives – industrial management versus independence – but had concluded that, should he elect to start his own business, product development and production know-how would be of key importance to his business strategy. He consequently joined Telefunken’s pre-production laboratory and, by 1965, became an assistant to Professor Nestel, head of research and development. His work in the Telefunken laboratories proved to be a decisive factor in his future career in that he was extensively involved in hybrid and semiconductor technology which formed the basis of the book he was subsequently to write on this subject. In addition, a number of his associates in the laboratory had run small business on their own before coming to Telefunken and Andreas Lewicki took special pains to acquire whatever knowledge he could of their previous experience. Such exposure confirmed his desire to develop his career in this direction.
It is important to point out that hybrid technology was generally assumed to be the privileged territory of large industry and beyond the reach of smaller firms, primarily because substantial investments in equipment and trained personnel are required. Acquisition of an expertise in the technology requires approximately two years and entails investment of between DM 1.0 – 1.5 million in design, production and quality control equipment. Hybrid integrated circuits (IC’s), which subsequently became one of Andreas Lewicki’s specialisations, are primarily used in electronics and aerospace applications and involve highly specialised knowledge of technical ceramics, metallurgy and semiconductors.
In 1966, Andreas Lewicki’s book on microelectronics (“Einführung in die Mikroelektronik”) was published and was a major success, receiving the Award of the German Telecommunications Society. This success prompted Lewicki to set up his own small microelectronics laboratory in a rented cellar in order to actually test and put into practice many of the issues and approaches discussed in his book. The book subsequently generated royalties of approximately DM 20,000 and not only provided Andreas Lewicki with the necessary capital to begin his own business but also published his ideas to the extent of providing a pool of potential customers for the business.
During his last 2-3 years at AEG-Telefunken, Andreas Lewicki was heavily involved in microelectronics programmes associated with various aerospace projects until, in 1967, at the age of 33, he struck out on his own and establishes his own hybrid-IC design laboratory and microelectronics consulting bureau for the aerospace industry and the general scientific establishment. He began production in a two-family house and, lacking sufficient capital to purchase the requisite equipment, made do with conversions that he designed and engineered himself; for example, converting an old Ge-Diode alloying oven into a firing furnace for thick film devices. In addition. Andreas Lewicki trained all of the staff himself rather than recruit technical expertise from outside the firm.
By 1970, he had patented about two dozen innovations in the electronics field and had designed and produced more than 100 different, custom tailored hybrid-IC’s. By 1971, he had turned in his first significant profits and, in 1972, he designed and constructed a 1000 sq.m design and production plant which today reflects an extraordinary attention to detail and planning.
By 1975, turnover had reached the DM 2.5-3.0 million level and Lewicki can claim that, in an area considered to be the preserve of large industrial research and investment organisations, he has succeeded in carving out an important segment of the market for himself. He has designed and produced over 350 different high reliability hybrid-IC’s for a wide range of important space projects which include Helios, Azur, Geos, for such customers as NASA, ESRO and GFW, as well as for a large number of military, nuclear, medical and oceanological projects.