Photonics21 – A European Success Story

Founded in 2005 the European Technology Platform Photonics21 today represents more than personal 2,500 members from all over Europe. Our members are experts of the photonics industry, research organizations and universities and voluntarily engage in Photonics21 to develop a joint European photonics strategy for future research and innovation to establish Europe as leader in the development and deployment of photonics technologies. Photonics21 also closely cooperates with its colleagues of national photonics technology platforms throughout Europe to further raise awareness for photonics and to strengthen the photonics sector on European and national level.

The European photonics community operates in seven Photonics21 work groups (WG) to discuss about future photonics research and innovation needs. Credit: Photonics21.

The European photonics community operates in seven Photonics21 work groups (WG) to discuss about future photonics research and innovation needs. Credit: Photonics21.

Up to 100 high level representatives of photonics companies, research organizations and universities engage as members of the Photonics21 Board of Stakeholders which is the decision-making body of the platform on all strategic issues. Our members of the Photonics21 Executive Board – the Photonics21 president, four vice-presidents and the Photonics21 work group chairs – perform the decisions by the Board of Stakeholders and represent Photonics21 towards the European Commission.

In 2013 the photonics community launched the Photonics 21 Association – a legal entity under Belgium law – to become the private contract partner in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with the European Commission under the Framework Programme Horizon 2020. The Photonics PPP represents a long-term commitment between the European Commission and the photonics stakeholders to invest in Europe and to secure Europe’s industrial leadership, economic growth and a highly skilled workforce as well as to generate new jobs.

The European photonics industry made a strong commitment to significantly invest in photonics research, innovation and manufacturing in Europe – up to €5.6 billion  – by matching every € spent by the European Commission in the PPP with €4 of private investment by industry. Today the European share of the global photonics market is about 18% as outlined in the Photonics Industry Report. For some photonics core segments such as production technology, optical components and systems and measurement and automated vision Europe has even a market share of more than one third of the world market.

The seven years Photonics21 Multiannual Strategic Roadmap Towards 2020 – Photonics Driving Economic Growth in Europe – published in 2013 – is the basis for the Photonics PPP and the priority-setting for future photonics research and innovation topics. Our experts of the Photonics21 community agree on photonics research and innovation priorities for the calls of the Horizon 2020 Work Programmes in an open, transparent and democratic bottom-up process. The process to determine the photonics research and innovation priorities for Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2016/2017 was finalized at the beginning of this year and the European Commission included the topics in the draft work programme text. The final work programme will be published in September 2015.

Another major highlight alongside the International Year of Light 2015 was the Photonics PPP Annual Meeting 2015 in May in Brussels focusing on Photonics solutions for the European society. More than 250 photonics experts from industry, research organizations and politics participated in the event to take the opportunity for discussion, networking and exchange on European level. Commissioner Günther H. Oettinger opened the General Assembly by his keynote speech.

Photonics PPP Annual Meeting 2015. Credit: Bea Uhart / Photonics21.

Photonics PPP Annual Meeting 2015. Credit: Bea Uhart / Photonics21.

Looking ahead of the International Year of Light 2015 Photonics21 will present its activities at the upcoming ICT 2015 event organised by the European Commission which will be held in October in Lisbon. In December Photonics21 will participate in the knowledge4 Innovation Summit in Brussels to run a debate on the digitization of industry.

If we look beyond the International Year of Light 2015, the Photonics21 community will start the process to determine the photonics research and innovation priorities for the Horizon 2020 work programme 2018/2019 alongside the Photonics PPP Annual Meeting 2016 to be held on 1-2 March 2016 in Brussels.

We invite every photonics expert from industry and academia to join Photonics21 and to contribute to the Photonics21 work groups to discuss about and set the photonics priorities for future research and innovation in Europe.

You can find any further information about Photonics21 on our website and follow us on twitter.


Katharina_Flaig-Rüttgers_C1Katharina Flaig-Rüttgers holds a degree in economics and languages and has been working for the European Technology Platform Photonics21 since 2009. Photonics21 coordinates the European photonics roadmap strategy process and provides photonics research and innovation priorities to be implemented in the photonics calls under the Photonics Public Private Partnership programme of Horizon 2020. Katharina Flaig-Rüttgers further coordinates the marketing and communication activities of Photonics21.

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