Shvabe Holding

Shvabe Holding

A holding company bringing together designers and manufacturers of optical devices

Shvabe is an innovative holding company uniting several dozens of organisations that form a core of the optical industry of Russia. The holding company's enterprises implement the entire cycle of manufacturing of the most advanced optical-electronic and laser equipment in the interests of national defence, state and public security, and non-defence industry sectors.

The holding company is a member of the Rostec State Corporation.Largest enterprises of Shvabe are members of the Russian Engineering Union.

100% shares in the holding company are owned by the Rostec State Corporation. General director of the holding company is Alexey Pavlovich Patrikeev.

Holding Company's Background

The history of the holding company goes back to 1837. It was then that innovative entrepreneur Theodor Shvabe placed his trading company and a workshop for the production and sales of optical equipment in Moscow.

In 1853, Shvabe Company took part in the Russia-Wide Manufacture Trade Show displaying a large telescope, several microscopes, scales, and sundials. The début was successful: Theodor Shvabewas awarded the Great Silver Medal.

In 1873, Shvabe Company was transformed into the Th. Shvabe Merchant House, and in 1912 – into Th. Shvabe joint stock company.  The range of products produced by the company exceeded 4,500 by that time.

In 1905, the government of Russia entered into contracts for opening of workshops of the famous German companies Carl Zeiss and C. P. Goerz in Riga. After World War I began, the companies were nationalised and moved to Petrograd from Riga, and merged. In 1916, the first state optical plant in Russia was established on the basis of the united companies – State Petrograd Optical Plant GAU. In the next decade, that plant changed its location several times: Voronezh, Perm, Podolsk, and eventually Banki in the Pavshino District of the Moscow Region.

In 1917, Th. Shvabe JSC was reorganized into Geofizika JSC. In late 1919, the company was nationalised, and the primary specialization of the plant became geodesic instruments and microscopes.

In 1930, the All-Union Association of the Optical Mechanics Industry (AUAOMI) was established. The structure of this organization can be considered a prototype of today's Shvabe Holding. AUAOMI included the Moscow plants Geofizika and Geodezia, Leningrad State Optical Mechanics Plant, Leningrad Optical Mechanics Plant, Leningrad Optical Glass Plant, SOI, Fine Mechanics Plant No. 19, and Izium Optical Plant. AUAOMI existed in this form until 1936, and in that year, the Association became part of the reorganized People's Commissariat for the Defence Industry (PCDI).

In 1934, the Fine Mechanics Plant that was previously numbered 19, was renamed to plant No. 69.

In September 1935, the construction of a mirror reflector plant started near Moscow. In 1939, it produced the first batch of 1.5 m diameter searchlight mirrors for anti-aircraft guns. Output of products was marked by emergence of a new enterprise in the history of Russian optics – Lytkarino Optical Glass Plant.

Construction of the Zagorsk Optical and Mechanical Plant that was called the "child of the second five-year plan: at the time was started in 1935.

In 1937, the Fine Mechanics Plant No. 69 was transferred from the People's Commissariat for the Defence Industry to the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (PCIA), renamed the PCIA Special Plant, and soon became one of the leading optical mechanics facilities of the country.

In 1939, approximately 25,000 people worked at the optical mechanics plants of the country. In the pre-war years, optical mechanics plants acquired a status of secrecy.

In October 1941, the Fine Mechanics Plant No. 69 was moved to Novosibirsk. In February 1942, the USSR People's Commissar for Armaments made a decision to establish a new factory on the vacated site of Plant No. 69. This became the State Union Optical Plant No. 393, later renamed the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant.

Optical mechanics plants significantly contributed to the victory over Nazi Germany by developing and supplying high-tech military products to the theatre of operations.

In post-war years, the plants began increasing the share of civilian production. Thus, in 1946, the first photographic camera Moskva-1 was produced in the USSR. A little later Krasnogorsk Plant started the production of the Zorky camera, which became one of the symbols of the city. And in 1952, Soviet engineers developed the first domestic reflex camera Zenit.

In 1946, the construction of optical glass production capacities began at the Lytkarino plant. The capacities of the plant were designed to produce 1,200 tons of glass per year. In the future, these volumes completely covered the demands of the country's industry for optical materials.

The second half of the 1950s became one of the most successful periods in the history of domestic optical science and instrument engineering. Revolutionary discoveries by scientists and space exploration provided additional opportunities for the development of the optical industry. Meanwhile, the products of Soviet plants received high marks at international industrial exhibitions, and the works of Soviet scientists received wide international acclaim.

On 12 April 1957, a branch of S. I. Vavilov State Optical Institute (BSOI) was opened in Kazan.   Originally, this organization combined fundamental and applied research with the development of processes for the production of equipment and instruments for military tasks and the national economy. In 1966, BSOI was reorganized into the State Institute for Applied Optics (SIAO).

In 1964, Plant No. 217 received an open identification – Ural Optical Mechanics Plant (UOMP). In that period, the plant occupied the leading positions in the world in the production of aviation optics and became one of the pioneers in the development of laser equipment.

All the optical companies that have been participating in the performance of governmental space exploration projects since the 1960s are part of Shvabe Holding today.

The 1960s were marked not only by the active process of space exploration but also by the development of laser technology. The Government of the USSR launched a wide-scale research and development programme both in the sphere of lasers and laser-based systems and tools.

Soon, Polyus Research Institute was established where research in the sphere of quantum electronics began immediately. In 1964, the first gyroscope in the USSR was developed at this institute.

In 1969, Luch Central Design Bureau (later renamed into Astrofizika Scientific and Production Association) was established with the goal of developing powerful lasers of various types and purposes.  It was there that in 1980, the first LE-1 aerospace laser locator was developed.

Along with fulfilment of orders for the defence industry, the optical companies of the USSR developed and commercially produced unique medical equipment.  Beginning from the mid-1980s, a number of production facilities were re-deployed for the production of consumer goods: field binoculars were replaced by tourist binoculars and opera glasses, military sights were replaced by sports and hunting ones, military and defence night vision systems were replaced by video surveillance security systems.

Today, the holding company's enterprises develop and manufacture various types of products for scientific researches, industry, construction, healthcare, recreation and tourism.

Shvabe Today

The Shvabe holding company possesses unique technologies for development and manufacturing of optical materials, hydro- and acousto-optics, low-temperature optics, high-energy lasers and processing of large astronomical optics.

More than 18,000 highly qualified specialists work at Shvabe's organisations, including more than 4,000 designers and developers possessing invaluable experience and knowledge that are successfully deployed in new products of Shvabe.


The main areas of activity of Shvabe are development and commercial manufacturing of optical and laser systems and units, advanced optical materials and technologies, machine building, knowledge-intensive medical industry, photodetectors, systems for aerospace monitoring and Earth remote sensing, devices for scientific researches, energy-saving lighting technologies, nano-mechanics and other technologically advanced products.

The product range of the holding company exceeds 6,500 items. Highly competitive products of Shvabeare much sought after and rank high among consumers in 95 countries of the world.

Developments and Innovations

Shvabe's philosophy is about creation, making challenging decisions, production of new products and continuous movement forward.

As of today, the holding company's enterprises concurrently manage several innovative projects in medicine, optical engineering and lighting technologies.

Shvabe has a separate department and commissions for innovative development of organisations included in the holding company as members. The commissions provide support to projects and promote deployment of advanced products at manufacturing facilities.

As of today, the holding company's portfolio of intellectual property assets includes 2,149 items. The holding company's enterprises have obtained 1,606 patents and certificates, including 150 abroad.

Shvabe is the leading Russian manufacturer of optical glass, sitall and fibre optics for transmission of lights and image, large astronomical mirrors, space lenses, various optical parts and devices.

The holding company's R&D works are based on laser and optical technologies, and systems, units and devices with unique characteristics and capabilities.

In 2014, the holding company demonstrated an innovative laser nano-microscope – MIM-340 designed for studying the properties of micro- and nano-relief of large objects with a resolution that is record-high in optical microscopy. This development allows to solve many problems not only in medicine, but also in the optical, semiconductor and other industries.

The holding company has demonstrated a pilot sample of a unique radio frequency system that can be used for minimally invasive surgery in oncology, dermatology, gynaecology, urology, veterinary medicine and other spheres of medicine.

The neonatal equipment range has been supplemented by a fibre-optical system for phototherapy that allows to quickly and efficiently reduce the content of bilirubin in new-born children suffering from jaundice. Other developments included a transforming incubator for the new-born that combines the advantages of incubator and the benefits of an open intensive care system.

Besides, Shvabe has developed a multi-purpose device for inhalation anaesthesia. The device allows to provide anaesthetic support for surgical operations of any degree of complexity. Equipment of this class will be manufactured in Russia for the first time ever.

The holding company's laboratory equipment was supplemented by an innovative portable spectro-refractometer designed for quick express evaluation of motor fuel quality.

New developments also included an innovative speed sensor allowing to measure the speed of motor vehicles in single lane and multi-lane traffic, a unique mobile robotic system for radiological reconnaissance allowing to search for local sources of gamma radiation and their liquidation.

The holding company is one of the leading manufacturers of optical devices and systems, including products used in outer space. Thus, the Geoton-L1 optical electronic system and the GSA removable hyperspectral system made by Shvabeare used today in the Resurs-P Earth remote sensing systems number 1 and 2. This equipment allowed to significantly improve informational content of our planet monitoring.

The holding company was actively involved in creating the Angara-5 heavy lift launch vehicle. In particular, Shvabe has developed and installed the ground-based and the on-board equipment of the fibre-optical system for transmission, processing and presentation of information of ground-based measurements designed for prerun servicing of the launch vehicle. This allowed to increase the payload of the spacecraft to be placed in orbit by 600 kg and significantly reduce the cost per kilogram of cargo delivered to outer space. As a result, the equipment became lighter and more reliable, with less interference and power supply and higher security of information transmission. The new technological solution also allowed to improve the quality of signal transmitted via the fibre optics and the speed of signal transmission.

The range of lighting equipment manufactured by Shvabe was supplemented by an innovative sensor lighting fixture equipped with motion and sound sensors.

In 2018, the holding company expects to achieve 15% growth of its portfolio of intellectual property.

The holding company includes largest industrial enterprises:

  • Shvabe JSC, Moscow

  • Astrofizika National Centre of Laser Systems and Complexes JSC, Moscow

  • Shvabe-Fotopribor JSC, Moscow 

  • Vologda Optical-Mechanical Plant Vologda

  • State Institute for Applied Optics Scientific Production Association JSC, Republic of Tatarstan Vavilov State Optical Institute, Saint Petersburg  Shvabe-Research JSC, Moscow

  • Zagorsk Optical-Mechanical Plant JSC, Moscow Region

  • Zverev Krasnogorsk Plant PJSC, Moscow Region S.A.

  • Lytkarino Optical Glass Plant JSC, Moscow Region

  • Vavilov State Optical Institute Research and technological institute of optical materials all-Russia scientific centre JSC, Saint Petersburg

  • S. I. Vavilov State Optical Institute All-Russian Research Centre, Saint Petersburg  Novosibirsk Instrument-Building Plant JSC, Novosibirsk

  • Optica Scientific and Production Association JSC, Moscow

  • Orion Scientific Production Association JSC, Moscow

  • Polyus Research Institute of M. F. Stelmakh JSC, Moscow  MZ Sapfir JSC, Moscow

  • Urals Optical-Mechanical Plant Production Association named after E. S. Yalamov JSC, Yekaterinburg  Shvabe Tech Lab JSC, Republic of Tatarstan