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German R&D group launches Digital Innovation Hub Photonics in Jena

28 Feb 2019

Push by Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics, Friedrich Schiller University and Thuringia state designed to support young photonics entrepreneurs.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Mechanics (IOF), the Institute of Applied Physics at Friedrich Schiller University Jena, together with Prof. Andreas Tünnermann, and Thuringia's Minister for Economic Affairs and Science Wolfgang Tiefensee have together launched the Digital Innovation Hub Photonics in Jena.

The aim of the project is to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups to turn their ideas into marketable products as quickly as possible. The project is being coordinated by the High Performance Photonik Service Center. By the year 2020, the Hub is scheduled to be supported with a sum of €1 million.

The partners commented, "New technologies are the fundamental drivers of innovation in photonics. Often founders and start-ups, however, lack the scientific, technological and financial capacities to independently pursue research and development with the highest standards or initiate risky innovation projects."

They add that with Digital Innovation Hub Photonics, described as a pilot project, they have the aim of actively supporting innovative start-ups and SMEs in the fields of optics and photonics towards product development and introduction onto the wider market.

The official launch, a kick-off meeting followed by a round table and laboratory tour took place on February 21st at the Fraunhofer IOF in Jena. The project was introduced in the presence of Wolfgang Tiefensee, Thuringian Minister of Economics, Science & Digital Society.

Startup support

"Optics is one of Thuringia's innovative showcase industries," commented Tiefensee. "But the challenge remains to accelerate the transfer of knowledge from research to industry and to get from the first idea to the marketable product, from the research result to the start-up. We want to achieve exactly that with the Digital Innovation Hub Photonics - as a regional transfer center."

He also referred to the wide range of Thuringian optics companies, which account for almost twelve percent of research and an export quota of 66 percent and more than 1,300 employees in the region.

"Jena, in particular, with its university, a further university of applied sciences and the Fraunhofer IOF, is the center of the Thuringian photonics industry," added Prof. Andreas Tünnermann, head of the Fraunhofer IOF and the Institute of Applied Physics of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

"Photonics offers solutions in almost all fields to meet the demands of a modern society. With this Digital Innovation Hub Photonics, we are offering the opportunity to translate creative ideas and concepts from the field of photonics quickly and efficiently into successful products."

Going forward, the team led by project manager Dr. Ing. Robert Kammel is interested in meeting new challenges for technology and innovation: "With our design and tech teams, we will be supporting start-ups in both product definition and the development of viable business models and market-driven demonstrators. These are an essential prerequisite for successful cooperation with partners, customers and investors."

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