The consortium partners of NEXPRESSO have held their final review meeting with the European Commission. Over the course of the four-year project, the consortium purchased €225,000 of photonics components for use in 11 R&D projects for research into healthcare, advanced materials, energy efficient lighting, advanced manufacturing and new photonic device development.
Feedback generated through the NEXPRESSO project activity allowed improvement of the prototypes before market launch.
The Network for Exchange and Prototype Evaluation of Photonics Components and Optical (NEXPRESSO) systems project offered prototype photonic devices for university research in order to evaluate them. The project was funded through the EU’s FP7 programme and ran from September 2010 until February 2014.
Thierry Gonthiez, CEO from start-up company Resolution Spectra Systems, a member of EPIC and participant in NEXPRESSO, commented: ‘In 2012 we delivered a prototype of a spectrometer to a laboratory that we didn't know before; since then our company has an ongoing R&D collaboration with them. With our product they could develop a new laser source. The prototype has become a product that was a Prism Award finalist in 2013 and used today by customers in the US, in Europe, in Japan and soon in China. The NEXPRESSO model is really good and has helped our company facilitate our technology development and commercial expansion.’
Most of the project work was undertaken by PhD or masters-level academics with senior supervision, providing the companies with highly qualified expertise. Fifty seven per cent of projects were in areas the company had not targeted and 29 per cent in areas for which they hadn’t considered their devices being used.
‘The NEXPRESSO-exchange programme was successful in broadening the market scope for SMEs, opening new research opportunities for academic groups and providing access for young scientists to pre-competitive photonic components. Although NEXPRESSO resources were limited, the impact has been significant in providing support to bridge the “valley of death”. The next step is now to convince decision making bodies or professional organisations to pick up this idea and run this within their region or member community,’ said Peter Van Daele from Imec Ghent University in Belgium, and NEXPRESSO project leader.
The NEXPRESSO model has been documented for other organisations to implement; a detailed ‘copy kit’ is available. EPIC has already confirmed that it will implement the model among its 150 members distributed over 24 countries.