Photonics hub awarded €19m by Horizon 2020

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Newly formed pan-European photonics digital innovation hub, PhotonHub Europe has received €19m from the EU’s investment programme. 

PhotonHub Europe is designed to help European SMEs become more competitive, digitally, through faster and smarter deployment of photonics-based technologies such as optical fibres for faster and richer online communication and computing. 

It is hoped that the hub will create more than 1,000 high-tech EU jobs and nearly €1bn in new revenues and venture capital by 2025.  

In order to accelerate the uptake and deployment of photonics technologies by European industry, PhotonHub Europe plans to establish a single photonics innovation hub which integrates all of the best-in-class photonics technologies, facilities, expertise and experience of 53 top competence centres across Europe, with open access for any company that wants to innovate with photonics. As a result, it will provide European companies, in particular “non-photonics” SMEs that are first users and early adopters of photonics, with open access and guided orienteering across services and capabilities covering: training and upskilling supports; ‘test before invest’ innovation support; supports to find investment; photonics training and upskilling supports.’ 

Peter O’Brien of the Tyndall National Institute at University College Cork in Ireland and leader of the training activities within PhotonHub Europe, explained: ‘Investing in workforce training is key to boosting innovation, especially helping “non-photonics” people become more skilled and knowledgeable in how to best exploit photonics technologies in their new products and applications. PhotonHub, through its European Photonics Innovation Academy, will not only open up the world-class facilities of our consortium partners for hands-on demos and training, but our training supports will be enhanced through online tools to include the extensive use of virtual training sessions and a digital catalogue of further photonics training opportunities from across the wider European academic and industrial ecosystem.’

Ewit Roos of PhotonDelta in The Netherlands and co-leader with the VUB of the ‘test before invest’ activities within PhotonHub Europe added: ‘Investing in innovation is risky, especially for smaller companies for whom photonics is a new technology where they have limited or no in-house expertise or equipment. We have a pool of 500 of the best photonics experts from across Europe readily available to engage with companies on highly collaborative innovation projects aimed at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) acceleration from prototyping to upscaling to manufacturing, complemented by targeted business coaching and IP advisory supports to the companies to further boost the market-readiness levels of their innovation activities, and all heavily subsidised for strongly committed companies.’ 

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