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Up to 100,000 euros to kickstart photonics public-private partnership

The European photonics industry could pay up to €100,000 to create a public-private partnership (PPP) with the European Commission (EC) to develop technologies with EC funding.

Photonics are identified as a key enabling technology by the EC for its Horizon 2020 technology development programme that will operate from 2014 to 2020. Photonics is grouped with microelectronics and nanotechnology, which together will receive more than €1 billion in EC funding under Horizon 2020. Europe’s photonics trade association, Photonics21, wants to match industry money to EC funding for projects that will mature technologies beyond the basic research that the EC’s projects often focus on.

Photonics21 president and Jenoptik CEO, Michael Mertin, told the association’s annual meeting on 30 April that: ‘We have to create a formal status, a legal vehicle has to be founded, a photonics association. The association will be the formal contract partner for the EC. I think we will see the results one year from now.’

The Photonics21 stakeholder’s board will constitute the association’s members and the association will be controlled by the Photonics21 executive board. Mertin explained that the 100 members of the stakeholder board and their companies would contribute in total anything from €30,000 up to €100,000 to the association’s costs ‘to guarantee the existence of the PPP model'. He also stressed that the EC wanted an association that was representative of the entire photonics community. 'We need openness and transparency, everyone should be able to join us even in the PPP structure later on.’

Khalil Rouhana is director for components and systems at the EC’s directorate general for communications networks, content and technology. He told the Photonics21 meeting, that he welcomed ‘a strong public-private partnership in Photonics. Such a partnership would represent an important joint investment between the European Union, industry and academia until 2020.’

In her keynote speech at the event, Neelie Kroes, EC vice-president for the digital economy, said: ‘Photonics makes ultra-high speed fibre broadband possible, it is the key to the 3D printing revolution. And most importantly at this time it is the raison d'être of 5,000 of Europe's most innovative SMEs. I want to make sure those companies have the R&D support they need to lead the €300 billion global photonics market.’

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