Optics Funding Opportunities

Learn about new optics and photonics funding opportunities. Web-only bonus content.

01 January 2015

As a service to the optics and photonics community, SPIE Professional periodically updates a list of funding opportunities for optics and photonics businesses, researchers, and students. SPIE also alerts its members to various funding opportunities in its monthly member e-news.

The sampling of photonics grant programs and competitions listed below is not intended to be a comprehensive list.

(Updated 3 June 2015)

• The European Space Agency (ESA) seeks entrepreneurs with innovative ideas for using space technology, applications, and services in a non-space environment. Funds can 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. Several open calls are ongoing. More

• The Germany Ministry for Economy and Technology, as part of its corporate support program, enables the participation of new, innovative startups in international trade fairs in Germany at favorable conditions. Eligible companies are German SMEs, have less than €10 million in annual revenues, have been founded within the last 10 years, and have invented and are producing a product in Germany. More (in German)

• The US Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) is seeking proposals for basic research on novel nanomagnetic science; optics and electromagnetics; plasma physics; laser physics; and other photonics research. Funding is also provided for international scientist exchanges. More

• The National Science Foundation (USA) encourages innovative research proposals on optics and photonics that are relevant to one or more divisions in the Directorates for Engineering (ENG), Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), or Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE). Topics of particular interest for fiscal year 2015 are the light-matter interaction at the nanoscale that encompass materials, devices, and systems, such as low-loss metamaterials, plasmonics, and quantum phenomena that could impact computation, communication, and sub-wavelength resolution detection/imaging. Other topics include novel terabit-per-second and above communication systems, especially those integrating devices and systems that advance the state of the art in networking, high-performance computing, and computer architecture. More

• Staff at the US 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.

Competitions and prizes in optics and photonics

• SPIE Education and Outreach grants provide funds each year 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. Nearly $90,000 in funding is available each year. The next deadline to apply for an SPIE Education and Outreach grant is 31 January 2015. Apply online at spie.org/outreach.

• The nominations deadline for the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) Young Scientist Prize in Optics is 15 July 2015. The award is for a scientist who has made noteworthy contributions to applied optics and photonics during a maximum of eight years of research experience after earning a PhD degree. More.

• The Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation opened its nominations for awards to be presented in 2016. The deadline to submit your photonics device or technology innovation is 2 October. More 

Information on US Government Grants

logo for U.S. grant Website Grants.gov is the best starting point to find and apply for US federal grants for optics and photonics technologies.

Several research endeavors that received funding from the US 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 Programs

Horizon 2020 image Europe's Horizon 2020 program has some €70 billion in research funding for through 2020.

Financial support for photonics research and innovation is expected to total at least €100 million per year through 2020. Core funding is found in the program's Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) themes, in which there are five R&D topics with a dedicated budget for photonics, co-developed with Photonics21.

Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, an initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness and creating new growth and jobs in Europe.

Horizon 2020 combines all research and innovation funding currently provided through the Framework Programmes for Research and Technical Development, the innovation-related activities of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Program (CIP) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).

Organizations in Europe that have information about business and research opportunities in optics and photonics:

To receive a subscription to the printed edition of SPIE Professional and the SPIE Member E-News, become an SPIE member.

Have a question or comment about this page? Write to us at spieprofessional@spie.org

Recent News
Sign in to read the full article
Create a free SPIE account to get access to
premium articles and original research
Forgot your username?