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EU announces 155 winners of business development funding

25 Sep 2014

Photonics-related projects account for 10% of firms benefiting from €3bn investment project.

The European Commission has announced the names of the 155 small and medium-sized enterprises that will be first to benefit from its new €3bn SME Instrument investment program. At least 15 (or 10%) of the projects are primarily or significantly photonics-based, reinforcing the importance that the Commission places on this sector.

The selected SMEs, from 21 countries, will each receive €50,000 ($64,000) to finance feasibility studies for their projects, and they can also benefit from up to three days of business coaching. Later, these projects may be considered for further financial support from the Commission worth up to €2.5m per project.

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, said, “Innovative SMEs will help get the European economy back on track, creating lasting employment and great products and services. This new instrument is aimed at projects that are truly innovative, with a strong business opportunity and a solid concept to bring them to the market.”

The SME instrument was launched under Horizon 2020, the EU's new €80bn research funding programme, to help innovative small firms get innovative projects from the lab to the market. SMEs from EU Member States or countries associated to Horizon 2020 can apply.


Photonics-related projects and the companies behind them include:

  • Optical and acousto-optic sensor technology for railway applications, by Frauscher Sensortechnik, Austria
  • Production and market-entry financing of digital concrete screens for outdoor digital signage, by Digistone, Denmark
  • Monitoring system for urban gas pipelines by THE Systems, Estonia
  • Image sensor for low-light outdoor security surveillance applications, by Pixpolar, Finland
  • Floating offshore photovoltaic systems (“FLOTA”), by Active Innovation Management, France
  • Robotic fluorescent microscope for smear slide screening in tuberculosis diagnosis, by ASK-M, Hungary
  • Development of an optical injection locked modulator, by Eblana Photonics, Ireland
  • A photonic integrated comb source: an economic feasibility study (PICOMB), by Pilot, Ireland
  • Innovative laser machine for industrial engraving and 3D texturing, by ML Engraving, Italy
  • Laser solution for cutting and welding TWIP steel (twinning-induced plasticity), by Elettrosystem SAS
  • Holographic scanner for safe high throughput screening of people and baggage (Holoscan), by IDEAS, Norway
  • 3-dimensional light sensor for advanced portable devices, by 3D-LEAP, Spain
  • Medical imaging systems for hospitals and clinics, by MedicalDev, Spain
  • Non-contact near infrared inspection and monitoring for evaluation of composites, by ITL, United Kingdom
  • Large-scale interactive multi-touch displays, by Alterix, United Kingdom
  • Digital rights management for 3D-printed items, by Things 3D, United Kingdom
  • Further funding

    The EC states, “the selected SMEs are in a good position to succeed in the second phase of the program, in which applicants could receive up to €2.5m to finance innovation activities such as demonstration, testing, piloting, scaling up, and miniaturisation. The beneficiaries will also develop their business plan.”

    Around 645 projects in total should be funded in 2014. This number will rise to 670 in 2015. The call for proposals is constantly open and the next deadlines for evaluation are 24 September and 17 December 2014 for Phase 1, and 9 October and 17 December 2014 for Phase 2. The full list and map of SME Instrument beneficiaries is here.

    About the Author

    Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org.

ABTechLaCroix Precision OpticsBerkeley Nucleonics CorporationTRIOPTICS GmbHSPECTROGON ABHÜBNER PhotonicsUniverse Kogaku America Inc.
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