Fraunhofer IOF spin-off Robust AO awarded Thuringian Start-up Prize

The Jena-based start-up Robust AO, a spin-off from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF, has been awarded the ThEx AWARD, the Thuringian Founders' Prize. Managing director Dr. Claudia Reinlein accepted the award on November 18 in Erfurt.

"Thuringia has many courageous and creative founders who are getting down to business, putting their good ideas into practice and have used the crisis as an opportunity for innovative products and services," said Wolfgang Tiefensee, Thuringian Minister for Economics and Science and patron of the ThEX AWARD, at the award ceremony.

A total of 118 applications were received in response to this year's call for entries for the start-up award. It is awarded by the Thüringer Zentrum für Existenzgründungen und Unternehmertum (ThEx) (engl: Thuringian Center for Start-ups and Entrepreneurship). A total of eleven projects were honored in four categories: FOUNDING, START-UP, FOLLOW-UP and GIVING PULSE.

First place in the category FOUNDING went to the Jena-based start-up Robust AO GmbH. The young company builds the so-called Zwobbel® - a plug-and-play solution for new or existing laser material processing systems. The Zwobbel® can thus increase the profitability of laser coating systems. Moreover, the technology enables new machining processes.

Robust AO GmbH had spun off from Fraunhofer IOF in 2020. The foundation was supported by the Digital Innovation Hub Photonics, a pilot project of the state of Thuringia with the aim of promoting start-ups in the field of optics and photonics.


Claudia Reinlein receives the ThEx AWARD from Wolfgang Tiefensee.
© Thomas Müller
The first place of the Thuringia Start-up Award in the category FOUNDING goes to Robust AO GmbH. Managing Director Dr. Claudia Reinlein accepted the award from Thuringia's Minister of Economics Wolfgang Tiefensee.
Claudia Reinlein is awarded the ThEx AWARD.
© Thomas Müller
Delighted with the award for her company, Robust AO: GmbH Managing Director Dr. Claudia Reinlein (center).
Group picture of the lucky winners of the ThEx AWARD.
© Thomas Müller
The ThEX-AWARD honors innovative founders from Thuringia.
More information on »Digital Innovation Hub Photonics« (DIHP)

The “Digital Innovation Hub Photonics” (DIHP) is a pilot project of the state of Thuringia - funded by the Thuringian Ministry for Economic Affairs, Science and Digital Society - which aims to promote spin-offs and startups in the fields of optics and photonics. The project began in early 2019 and is based at the Center of Excellence in Photonics of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF and the Institute for Applied Physics IAP at Friedrich Schiller University Jena. The current second phase of the project also includes other research institutes in Jena - the Abbe Center of Photonics (ACP) as well as the Leibniz HKI, the Leibniz IPHT, and the Helmholtz Institute Jena. Currently, a total of eight teams from the participating institutes are supervised at the DIHP. Close cooperations are maintained with other partners within Jena and Thuringia as well as with non-university research institutions.