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European industry gathers at Photonics Partnership Annual Meeting

27 Apr 2023

Get-together in Brussels considers market opportunities – and launches next Strategic Research Agenda.

by Matthew Peach in Brussels

Key players in the European photonics industry this week (April 26th and 27th) gathered in Brussels, Belgium, for the Photonics Partnership Annual Meeting 2023 organized by European platform Photonics21.

Besides taking the opportunity to network and discuss the latest developments, challenges and market opportunities, the attendees took part in Work Groups designed to discuss and develop research and innovation priorities for the next Photonics Partnership Horizon Europe call topics.

The conference was introduced by Photonics 21 President Dr. Lutz Aschke, who welcomed the several hundred delegates, and announced the publication of the brand new Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) for 2023-2030.

Before the attendees, Dr. Aschke ceremonially handed the SRIA – described in more detail below – over to special guest Thomas Skordas, Deputy Director-General in the DG CONNECT at the European Commission, commenting, “The SRIA represents a significant milestone for the photonics industry in Europe, outlining a clear vision and pathway forward for the European photonics community.”

Other aspects of the two-day meeting included, on day one: a keynote speech by Gabriel Crean, CEO of the Lux Consulting group, entitled “Photonics – Critical for Europe’s Autonomy in Strategic Value Chains”; and two presentations on how the newly-signed European Chips Act offers many opportunities for continent’s photonics sector.

The Wednesday evening session concluded with the presentation of the 2023 Innovation Award, which this year was given to Nagarajan Subramaniyam, CTO and co-founder of Xfold Imaging.

The spin out from Finland’s Aalto University produces surface signal enhancing nanostructures for research and diagnostic applications. Subramaniyam explained how Xfold’s technology “helps enhance weak optical signals, and can be produced on a variety of substrates, such as silicon, glass, and polycarbonate, and cut into various sizes.”

The 2023-2030 Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda

With its renewed strategy, Photonics21 is responding to and considering the European Union’s need to re-establish economic competitiveness by way of strategic autonomy and resilient, strategic supply chains.

Dr. Aschke explained: “The two overriding priorities of the European Union for economic competitiveness are to achieve strategic autonomy in key sectors of the European economy, to continue strengthening EU strategic supply chains and reduce trade dependencies.

“The Board of the Photonics Partnership and I, fully believe that the European photonics community has both the capacity and capability, along with the motivation, to contribute to these two interlinked challenges.”

He added, “Photonics21's Executive Board and the Photonics21 secretariat have initiated a number of collaborations in strategic policy areas. These focus groups demonstrate the commitment of the Photonics Partnership to work collaboratively with industry, academia, and policymakers to drive innovation and progress in the photonics industry.”

The SRIA addresses the importance of advanced photonics technologies across several strategic EU value chains and industrial ecosystems including high-performance computing and quantum computing, augmented and virtual reality for a European metaverse, digital infrastructure, industry 5.0 and manufacturing, automotive and mobility, space and defence, renewable energies, health, and agriculture and food.

The SRIA is a first contribution to important future analysis, as the European Commission has yet to perform detailed dependency reviews of the Photonics sector.

Through 2028, the Horizon Europe Photonics Partnership will work to realize the objectives outlined in the SRIA. These objectives are focused on advancing research in key areas such as health, communications, and manufacturing, as well as fostering collaboration between industry, academia, and policymakers. By doing so, the Partnership aims to provide the strong foundation necessary for the photonics industry to position itself for the future and contribute to Europe's economic growth.

Optikos Corporation Hyperion OpticsBerkeley Nucleonics CorporationIridian Spectral TechnologiesABTechECOPTIKMad City Labs, Inc.
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