Photonic entrepreneurs to get $10,000 opportunity

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Grants of $10,000 or more are to be awarded to photonic entrepreneurs by Open Photonics, a new company that selects technologies that will solve problems for its corporate clients.

Open Photonics is using a two-stage research and development model that emulates the US government’s small business innovation research programme combined with that of the Gates Foundation - its approach is viewed as having minimal paperwork. Each application will be peer reviewed by Open Photonics’ experts.

The two-stage development process will see $10,000 given for promising ideas that can be proven in the laboratory. At the first stage intellectual property is not sought by Open Photonics and its clients, but if the work moves to the second stage, where $100,000 could be provided, then IP does come into play. Such an IP deal could include an option agreement or a full license for the technology.

‘We want to tap into small companies and inventors that have good ideas but don’t know how to commercialise them,’ said Dr Jason Eichenholz, a co-founder of the company and its CEO. He also said of his approach: ‘I didn’t want people to spend three days dong the paperwork. You fill out the form online, the terms and conditions are very straightforward.’

Eichenholz declined to talk about specific areas in photonics his clients were interested. He expected to be able to talk about such details in the near future. He also expects to have anonymous problem statements on his company’s website in future. The anonymity is to hide the interested client. Eichenholz hopes these problem statements will attract companies and inventors.

Eichenholz previous roles include chief technology officer for Ocean Optics and director of strategic marketing for Newport and Spectra-Physics. He has also served as the principal investigator for projects at the US Air Force and the Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, working on the small business technology transfer and small business innovation research programmes.