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EPIC advocates for photonics funding

The European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC) has announced that it is advocating for a photonics contractual public private partnership (cPPP) to be selected for funding under the future Horizon Europe 2021-2027 programme.

Such a partnership would build on the work of Photonics 21, which was formed in 2013 to become the private contract partner in a cPPP arrangement with the EU Commission in the ongoing Horizon 2020 programme.

Horizon 2020, set to conclude next year, is the biggest EU research and Innovation (R&I) programme ever, which by its end will have granted nearly €80 billion in funding over the course of seven years – 2014 to 2020.

Eyes on Brussels

On 3 May a discussion will take place at the European Commission in Brussels regarding the short list of potential PPP’s that could receive funding under the next Horizon Europe programme between 2021-2027.

Earlier this year, Nobel Prize winning scientists behind major photonics breakthroughs warned that the sector could be seriously compromised if it is not included in the Horizon Europe draft funding priority list.

Dr Wenko Süptitz of Spectaris, the German industry association for the hightech medium-sized business sector, also recently highlighted the importance of photonics appearing in the EU's Horizon Europe framework.

While Photonics has now made it to the short list of potential PPP's to receive funding, which is currently circulating the ministries of the 28 European capitals, it is not yet guaranteed that a Photonics PPP will be retained for support in the future Horizon Europe programme.

EPIC has therefore announced its advocation for a future Photonics cPPP, which it has done so in the clear knowledge that such a cPPP will meet the recent draft proposed partnerships criteria of the European Research Area and Innovation Committee. 

The organisation stated in the announcment of its advocation that a photonics cPPP will: 

1. Be effective and efficient

The Photonics21 cPPP was ranked first out of the ten existing cPPP’s, by an Independent Expert Group, during the mid-term review of the contractual Public Private partnerships under Horizon 2020.

2. Be coherent and synergetic

A photonics European Partnership would underpin the future and first ever European Commission Digital Europe Programme, which will seek to strengthen Europe’s world leadership in the digital transformation. The recent 2018 European Commission and European Investment Bank report on ‘Financing the digital transformation: Unlocking the value of photonics and microelectronics’, is direct and states that ‘the Photonics sector is an essential key enabling technology and represents an important building block of the next digital revolution, which will be based on deep technologies’

3. Have the long-term commitment of its partners

The current Photonics21 partnership (cPPP) has demonstrated a very high (more than four) leverage factor with respect to private to public funding, as recently highlighted by DigitalEurope. More importantly, European Photonics SMEs are committed to invest more than €10 billion per year into R&I in Europe during the time period of Horizon Europe. The Photonics 21 partnership is actively complemented by a very strong and active European Photonics Industry Consortium, bringing together over 600 Photonics Industry CEO’s from around the world.

4. Meet the criteria for the EU Value Added and Additionality

The Photonics21 cPPP has played a key role in creating a network of National Photonics associations and Prototyping and Pilot Production Networks, who are now strongly engaged in the development of sustainable regional and national competitiveness photonics policy and ecosystems. One result of this proactive engagement is the decision of the Netherlands in December 2018 to invest €238 million in photonics development. The PhotonDelta initiative involves government, three regions, the Dutch national photonics association, several industrial members of EPIC and research members of Photonics21.

5. Be fully open and transparent

By involving more than 3,000 photonics experts representing more than 1,700 SME industry and research organisations, the Photonics21 PPP is seen as a role model for any future European partnership in Horizon Europe in terms of openness and transparency.


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