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Photonics Public Private Partnership set to fulfil investing pledges ahead of Horizon 2020

At this years’ Photonics Public Private Partnership (PPP) annual meeting in Brussels on 28-29 March, speakers discussed the organisation’s continued growth and its current placement to be able to fulfil investment pledges ahead of Horizon 2020. A student innovation award was also presented at the meeting for new spectroscopic sensing techniques in food safety.

Photonics21 Vice President Giorgio Anania showed that the organisation’s spending on projects has exceeded €277.9 million over the past three years. (Credit: Photonics21)

Incoming Photonics21 president and CEO of Osram Opto Semiconductor, Aldo Kamper, spoke about how he is proud to be in charge of a partnership that is not only well-positioned to fulfil its pledges to quadruple the investment of the European Commission ahead of 2020, but is also looking ahead to the future. ‘The challenge for us in the photonics community is to find the next big thing,’ he commented. Kamper will be taking over the role of president from Dr Michael Mertin, CEO of Jenoptik.

Kamper was also clear in his desire to see strengthened links within the industry: ‘More work needs to be done between the partners of the photonics community,’ he said. ‘We must look at the even bigger picture to see where photonics technology can contribute and reach out, outside of photonics.’

Speaking on the success of the Photonics PPP in its first three years, Photonics21 vice president Giorgio Anania showed that the organisation’s spending on projects has exceeded €277.9 million and has involved 335 industrial partners, where more than half have been SMEs. With the global photonics industry doubling from €228 billion in 2005 to €447 billion in 2015, Anania revealed how the industry had outstripped global GDP growth across the decade. He also outlined the potential of photonics for growth and jobs in Europe with an impressive forecast of 42,000 newly created European jobs in the industry by the end of Horizon 2020.

Khalil Rouhana, deputy director-general of DG Connect, emphasised the importance of the digitising European industry initiative, and the creative ecosystem that the Photonics PPP enables. ‘This initiative ensures that any industry in Europe can not only benefit from digital innovation but can compete on a global scale, grow and create jobs,’ Rouhana said. This Public Private Partnership, Rouhana explained, is a reflection of what Europe does best: ‘Working together in a competitive manner’.

Philippe Vannson, head of the photonics unit in DG Connect, discussed how the European Commission had been focusing on this creative ecosystem to foster synergies among the members in the value chain, and what would be needed for the Commission’s continued investment in the technologies that boost the digital innovation capacities of Europe.

The 2017 Student Innovation Award was presented by Photonics21 executive board member Jaap Lombaers, and won by Lien Smeesters, a PhD student and research assistant at Vrije Universiteit Brussels. Smeesters was applauded for her work on food safety, in particular the development of spectroscopic sensing techniques for the optical detection of carcinogens in food products as well as integrating this research into in-line industrial sorting machines. She received a certificate, a trophy and a cash prize of €5,000.

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