What is photonics?
Photonics is the technology of light. The field of Photonics focusses on all technical applications of light and includes lasers, photovoltaics, lighting, screens and displays, sensors, optical fibres and optoelectronics. It is at the heart of most advanced engineering systems from cameras to cellphones, to printers and barcode scanners to medical and industrial lasers, and to high speed communications and computing, aviation, power generation, spectroscopy, holography, biophotonics, agriculture and robotics. Advances in photonics are enabling an innovation revolution.
What is Europe doing about it?
The European Commission allocates about 11 billion euros per year to support research and innovation and approximately 1% is being targeted directly at photonics, a group of technologies which it has classed as one of six Key Enabling Technologies (KETs). In addition to the 1% of directly allocated monies, much of the investment in other high priority domains for Europe – such as energy, transport, SMEs, risk finance to name just a few – will favour photonics. The level of commitment is high. In 2013 the Commission, in conjunction with photonics sector stakeholders led by the Photonics21, established a dedicated photonics public private platform (PPP). Neelie Kroes, Vice-President for the Digital Agenda of the European Commission, announced the successful launch of the new PPP in December of that year. The Photonics Unit of the Commission,under the lead of Thomas Skordas (recently succeeded by Wolfgang Boch), has initiated a wide range of actions to help assure that Horizon 2020 is correctly geared to the photonics agenda. The European Photonics Industry Consortium EPIC has been very active in promoting a climate for progress.
Where does LightJumps fit in?
LightJumps was created by the Commission’s photonics unit in late 2013. The project consortium and plan was selected from a number of proposals submitted under Commission call Objective ICT-2013.3.2 Photonics. The project aim is to increase cooperation of photonic clusters and national technology platforms to stimulate the innovation potential of SMEs, based on business cases demonstrating a clear potential for sales and employment growth. The project is an instrument for delivering on the Commission’s and the PPP’s agenda, for reinforcing national photonics platforms and for increasing the level of participation in the industry by small and medium enterprises. The project is coordinated by innovation management firm PNO Consultants and is focused around the industry ecosystems of JePPIX and Sensor City in the Netherlands, OES in Germany, Pole D’Optique Photonique Sud, OPTITEC in France and Alta Brillanza and Lazio Connect in Italy.