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The European photonics industry is ready to deliver on its commitment of an overall investment of 7 Billion Euros in a Photonics Public Private Partnership (PPP) by 2020 and make an impact on creating new jobs and recovering from the economic crisis.
Brussels, 28 March 2012: Today, Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President announced her active support towards creating a photonics Public Private Partnership (PPP) within the Horizon 2020 framework together with Photonics21, the platform of the European photonics industry in the frame of the Photonics21 Annual Meeting, which was held in Brussels.
“Europe needs to face up to the challenges of a rapidly globalising economy. The photonics sector can unleash massive economic potential and help deliver the Digital Agenda for Europe. EU policies that support research, demonstration, and application are crucial for spurring Europe’s competitiveness. A Public Private Partnership in Photonics, based on a serious commitment from industry, will help to unlock Europe’s innovation potential and bring to market products that will shape our future world and our future economy” said Neelie Kroes.
The Photonics Public Private Partnership would bring Europe a step further towards addressing the economic crisis and closing the divide between scientific excellence and innovative production. The European photonics industry reaffirms its commitment – the strongest amongst all KETs – to 4-fold leverage public support of 1.4 billion towards the creation of a shared account totalling 7 billion Euros. Another significant pledge includes establishing measurable targets for success of the projects funded. Photonics21 welcomes the opportunity for a partnership, which would bring the photonics industry on par with the European Commission, ensure long-term investment security over 7 years and significantly impact the European job market with the creation of an additional 70,000 to 100,000 jobs.
In a high-ranking panel discussion with representatives from the EU Commission and the European Parliament, MEP Malcolm Harbour expresses his full support for a Photonics PPP: “Photonics are recognised as a critical strategic technology for a modern and technologically advanced Europe. The proposed 7 Billion Euro partnership between Photonics21 and the European Commission would have a substantial impact on future growth and job creation, and significantly assist the EU’s continued economic recovery. It will be a major boost for the Innovation Union".
Martin Goetzeler, President of Photonics21, highlights that “Photonics21 welcomes the ambitious Horizon 2020 proposal by the European Commission with its approach for a real innovation focused funding with positive impact on jobs and competitiveness and where public private partnerships (PPPs) would generate a long term budget security for the projects partners .”
Like many other sectors, the potential of the photonics industry is currently limited by the so called “Valley of Death” in the innovation value chain. “Photonics innovation in Europe tends to fall through in the stage between successful science and pilot scale industrial deployments, the latter being the stage at which jobs can start being created”, Martin Goetzeler comments.
He emphasises that in order “to strengthen Europe’s innovation capacity and capture the full benefit of Europe’s industry base, we need to avoid mistakes of the past and ensure the creation of an environment that nurtures innovation and covers the entire value chain, from the breakthrough in research through to the development of products”.
The founding of a Photonics PPP would address these concerns and bring to fruition the recommendations of the KET High Level Group 2011 report, which calls for a clear focus to be placed on KETs. The proposal for the Horizon 2020 framework incorporates those recommendations in its entirety and calls for a strong commitment from all key actors involved to enhance collaboration and ensuring a strong leadership position for Europe.
Striving to support photonics training and education and contribute to strengthening a highly qualified workforce in Europe is the aim of the Education and Training work group of Photonics21. For the fourth time therefore Photonics21 is handing over a Student Innovation Award entailing a cash prize totaling 5000 Euros to two outstanding student research works on photonics. Thomas Geernaert, Post-doctoral research fellow at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel received the award for his excellent work on sensors and Bernhard Schrenk, post-doctoral researcher at the National Technical University of Athens for his innovative research on the next generation of optical fibre networks.