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SPIE Professional January 2014

Photonics innovation in Europe's Horizon 2020

Image of Logo for Horizon 2020

Photonics21 and the Photonics Unit of the European Commission will hold an information and networking day in Brussels 16 January on photonics-related funding under the European research and innovation program, Horizon 2020.

The European Parliament approved a budget of nearly €80 billion for Horizon 2020, including some €17 billion for the “Leadership in Enabling Industrial Technologies” (LEIT) area where applied photonics project funding will be largely represented.

The Horizon 2020 budget also includes €3.5 billion for a Photonics Public-Private Partnership (PPP), a joint program between the EC and Photonics21. The PPP deal represents the culmination of nearly three years of negotiations between Europe's photonics industry representatives and the Brussels bureaucracy.

However, only half of the hoped-for investment by the EC is included in the final PPP budget.

logo Photonics21Photonics21 stakeholders, who agreed in September 2011 to leverage any central funding for the PPP by a factor of four, had been aiming to negotiate a contribution of €1.4 billion from the EC.

That would have amounted to a €7 billion budget for the PPP overall, but with only €700 million now forthcoming from Brussels, the overall plan for the PPP will be worth €3.5 billion.

The decision to halve the proposed PPP funding was taken in the midst of negotiations among the EC, the European Parliament, and European Council that concluded in November with a new "multiannual financial framework" agreement for the 2014-2020 period.

Representatives from Photonics 21 and the EC will provide more information on the PPP at the January event, along with information on the calls published in December.

Biophotonics, LED lighting and more in first calls

The first Horizon 2020 calls list funding opportunities for biophotonics research; development of novel materials and systems for organic LED lighting; laser-based manufacturing; thin, organic and large-area electronics (TOLAE); and a host of other photonics topics.

A variety of information and communication technologies (ICT), such as sensing for safety and civil security and photonic integrated circuits (PICs), are also included in the research program that begins this year and runs through 2020.

Horizon 2020 replaces the Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7), which ran from 2007 to 2013 with a budget of around €55 billion. The new program is designed to deliver results that make a difference in people’s lives.

image for Horizon 2020

Built on three pillars — industrial leadership, excellent science, and societal challenges — Horizon 2020 brings all EU-level funding for research and innovation under one roof, provides a single set of rules, and will radically slash red tape.

The overarching goal is a more coherent, simpler program that will make it easier for smaller research organizations and small businesses to participate.

Photonics Public-Private Partnership a 'crown jewel'

EC Commissioner Neelie Kroes identified photonics as being of "vital economic importance" to Europe and hailed the PPP agreement as a "crown jewel" within the wider Horizon 2020 innovation program.

Kroes predicted that the PPP would lead to faster innovation processes and a faster time to market for photonics innovations developed in Europe. A wider range of funding instruments, including venture finance, would also be made possible, Kroes said.

"It is a great opportunity that we can build on," she said. "We can create a vigorous European leadership that creates a better future for all."

In a press statement, Photonics21 vice presidents Bernd Schulte and Giorgio Anania welcomed the PPP as a "significant boost" for the sector and innovation in Europe overall.

Anania acknowledged the wider funding squeeze, saying, "Given the tighter fiscal belts in the EU's overall budget, it is now all the more important that different EU funding streams are well-aligned, and that every euro is spent wisely."

Anania added, "Smart specialization and smart spending, coupled with massive simplification and greater flexibility, will therefore be at the heart of the photonics PPP's efforts to ensure the greatest impact possible on economic growth and job creation."

Schulte said: "As a key enabling technology, photonics plays a pivotal role in the re-industrialization of Europe, and expanding the industry share of the European economy beyond the current 16% by 2020."

The information day on 16 January will be held at the offices of the Photonics Unit in Brussels. Meeting space is limited, so attendees are asked to register by sending an email to eddy.corthals@ec.europa.eu.


DOI: 10.1117/2.4201401.07

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