European Commission supports 7 billion euro photonics partnership

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European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes has announced her support for a €7 billion photonics public private partnership, which industry says it can commit more than €5 billion too.

This combining of industry and government resources would be undertaken within the Horizon 2020 framework. Horizon 2020 is to be the EC’s seven-year research and development programme, which previously has been known as the seventh framework, because it was the seventh multi-year R&D programme. Horizon 2020 will operate from 2014 to 2020.

Neelie Kroes said: ‘Europe needs to face up to the challenges of a rapidly globalising economy. The photonics sector can unleash massive economic potential and help deliver the digital agenda for Europe. EU policies that support research, demonstration, and application are crucial for spurring Europe’s competitiveness.’

The digital agenda is the EC’s plan to encourage the use and growth of information and communication technologies in the EU. Photonics industry group Photonics21 expects such a public private partnership to create an additional 70,000 to 100,000 jobs for the EU economy. Photonics21 wants the partnership to help industry overcome the problems of developing a technology from concept to product. Known as the ‘valley of death’, photonics innovation can fail during the development stages between a successful laboratory demonstration and pilot scale industrial deployments, which starts to create jobs.