SPIE is committed to the success of its members who are making the world a better place with innovative optics and photonics technologies.
As a service to the community, SPIE Professional keeps an updated list of funding opportunities for optics and photonics businesses, researchers, and students. The sampling below of grants programs and photonics competitions listed below is not intended to be a comprehensive list.
(Updated 18 March 2013)
• The next application deadline for research funding through the EUREKA Eurostars Programme is 4 April 2013. The Eurostars Programme is dedicated to the R&D performed by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and co-funded by the European communities and 33 EUREKA member countries. Eurostars aims to stimulate these SMEs to lead international collaborative research and innovation projects by easing access to support and funding. It specifically targets the development of new products, processes, and services and access to transnational and international markets. More
• Several programs of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) support international research and educational activities. The Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) supports projects in which advances in research and education would not occur without international collaboration. The PIRE competition will focus on Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES) and developing a diverse, globally-engaged U.S. science and engineering workforce. The next PIRE solicitation will be issued in June 2014. Awards will be made in the August-September 2015 time period. More
• Funding of €355 million is available for small- and medium-sized enterprises in Europe under the the Eco-Laserfact initiative. The new EU-supported program is aimed at the rapid development and wider adoption of laser micromachining technology in North-West Europe and will promote eco-efficient laser technology for factories of the future. More
• Photonics21 wants to leverage initial public funding for technology development as part of the forthcoming "Horizon 2020" program. The organization of 1800 representatives of photonics industry and science in Europe has proposed a €7 billion public-private partnership investment to deliver technology innovation and commercialization on a scale not seen before on the continent. The first call for proposals in Horizon 2020 is expected sometime in the summer. More
• An open call in the 2013 ICT PSP work programme is intended specifically for biophotonics solutions for diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment of diseases. The aim is to fund pilot actions to demonstrate in real application settings innovative biophotonics-based solutions that offer a significant advantage over conventional approaches for disease diagnosis, monitoring, or treatment. The programme is intended to support up to four Pilot Type B actions for up to 10M€ of EU contribution. The solutions targeted should already have proven technical feasibility but they should not be commercially available yet. The call closes 14 May. More
• The European Space Agency seeks entrepreneurs with innovative ideas for using space technology, applications, and services in a non-space environment. Funds will be used for seed-capital investments, startups and early-stage growth capital for companies using space-related technologies or satellite applications in non-space fields. Support also comes from the ESA Business Incubation Centres. More
• The UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has launched a new funding competition focused on the application of photonics in healthcare. The funding of up to £3.7 million, which will be made via two different types of projects, is aimed at encouraging the formation of new "business-led" partnerships between academia, industry and health providers, to validate and highlight new applications of photonics technologies in the sector. The program seeks to foster a closer interaction between photonics technology developers and healthcare practitioners, something previously identified by as something of a weakness by the UK's Technology Strategy Board (TSB). Funding comes from a £50 million pot made available to the technology areas that were not selected to be one of seven "Catapult" centers. The first strand is a single-stage competition for pre-industrial feasibility studies. All applicants must register for Strand 1 by noon 24 April, with completed applications due 1 May. The second strand will allocate £2.2 million to collaborative research and development work. The deadline for registration for Strand 2 is noon 17 April, with completed expressions of interest by noon 24 April. More
• NASA's Space Technology Program is also looking for visionary advanced ideas. NASA's annual call for NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts Program (NIAC) is seeking proposals for revolutionary concepts with the potential to transform future aerospace missions. Proposed concepts should enable new missions or significantly improve current approaches to achieve aerospace objectives. NIAC studies visionary aerospace architecture, system or mission concepts that are exciting and unexplored, yet credible and executable. The concepts are early in development -- generally 10 years or more from operation and are chosen based on peer review of the potential impact, technical strength and benefits of the proposed study. NIAC was accepting short proposals, limited to three pages, until 14 February. After review, NASA will invite those whose proposal concepts are of interest to the agency to submit a full proposal of no more than eight pages. Full proposals will be due 18 April. More
• Staff at the U.S National Academies reviews applications for its Research Associateship Program four times a year. Deadlines for applying online are 1 May, 1 August, 1 November, and 1 February. More.
• The Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), a Department of Defense (DoD) program, is requesting proposals for demonstration of environmental technologies and for demonstrations of energy technologies on DoD installations beginning in FY2014. Pre-proposals are due by 14 March and 28 March, respectively. More
Competitions and prizes in optics and photonics
• SPIE will award $2,000 travel scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students attending an SPIE symposium during the 2013-14 academic year. More
• Photonics21 will present the 2013 Student Innovation Award 29 April at the Photonics21 annual meeting in Brussels. The Research, Education and Training work group of Photonics21 (Work Group 7) established the prize for students in the field of photonics in order to promote research in photonics especially related to R&D with a significant industrial impact. The award consists of a certificate, a trophy, and a cash prize of €5,000. More
• SPIE Education and Outreach grants provide funds to not-for-profit organizations such as universities, optics centers, primary and secondary schools, youth clubs, and photonics industry associations to buy supplies for science programs and fairs, to train teachers, and to support summer camps and other activities that increase optics and photonics awareness. Some $85,000 in funding is available. The next deadline to apply for an SPIE Education and Outreach grant is 31 May 2013. Apply online at spie.org/outreach.
Information on U.S. Government Grants
Grants.gov is the best starting point to find and apply for U.S. federal grants for optics and photonics technologies.
Several research endeavors that received funding from the U.S. Commerce Department's Technology Innovation Program show the range and impact of photonics in improving our quality of life.
Other resources for federal grants in the United States:
Information on European Research and Innovation Programmes
Research Framework Programme 7 (FP7) runs through 2013 at which time a new program called Horizon 2020, with more than €80 billion for 2014-2020 takes over.
Opportunities for photonics organizations under Horizon 2020 are explained in an April 2012 SPIE Professional article.
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