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Photonics KET


Specific Challenge: Further major S&T progress and R&I investments are required for sustaining Europe's industrial competitiveness and leadership in photonic market sectors where Europe is strong. Europe needs also to strengthen its manufacturing base in photonics to safeguard the further potential for innovation and value creation and to maintain jobs. Finally, Europe needs to better exploit the innovation capacity of the more than 5000 existing photonics SMEs and the innovation leverage potential of the more than 40 existing innovation clusters and national platforms.


a.      Research & Innovation Actions

Application driven core photonic technology developmentsfor a new generation of photonic devices (including components, modules and sub-systems). Focus is on the following topics:

         Optical communication for data centres: Low-cost, energy-efficient photonic devices supporting radically new system and network architectures driven by the emergence of exa-scale cloud datacentres. Actions should focus on optical inter- and intra-data centre transmission, switching and interconnects facilitating Tb/s interface speeds and Pb/s network throughput.

         High-throughput laser-based manufacturing: High-power, high-efficiency laser sources (both continuous wave and pulsed); novel technologies and devices for beam delivery and for processing of multiple beams from laser source arrays; high-performance optical devices and systems; fast synchronisation of laser source and high-speed scanning devices.

PIC technology: Device, circuit and fabrication technology for PICs (Photonics Integrated Circuits), suited for cost-effective volume manufacturing on semiconductor or dielectrics based photonic integration platforms. Actions may cover also electronic-photonic integration, as well as heterogeneous and hybrid integration technologies for PIC-based high-performance or high-density modules.


All RTD actions should address also the related materials, manufacturability, validation of results for the target applications, and standardisation activities, as appropriate. They should demonstrate strong industrial commitment, be driven by user needs and concrete business cases supported by strong exploitation strategies, and cover the value/supply chainas appropriate.

b.      Innovation support through public procurement actions[1]

Pilot deployment of software-defined optics in backbone networks: Equip the networks of Public network operators (e.g. NRENs) with novel Software Defined Optical Networking technologies (from component level to system and network level) using first commercial hardware and software to transport high traffic volumes to demanding customers in a dynamic way.

c.       Coordination and Support actions

Actions driven by the key stakeholders in photonics and targeting:

         Open access of Researchers and SMEs to advanced design, fabrication and characterization facilities fostering the development of novel photonics solutions through the use of new materials, unconventional approaches and light-matter interaction.

         Cooperation of photonic clusters and national technology platforms to stimulate the innovation potential of SMEs, based on business cases demonstrating a clear potential for sales and deployment growth.

Actions should link with on-going support actions providing access to advanced R&I services and capabilities with the aim to make them also accessible to researchers or to establish a network of innovation multipliers providing a broader technological, application, innovation, and regional coverage of such services and capabilities in order to address the needs of SMEs.

d.      ERA-NET Cofund action

A joint call for proposals on a photonics topic of strategic interest, to be funded through an ERA-NET Cofund action between national and regional grant programmes.

Expected impact:

a.      Research & Innovation Actions

         Improved business opportunities and value creation in Europe by reinforced cooperation along the value chain.

         Secured and reinforced industrial technology leadership and substantially increased market presence in high-bitrate optical communications for data centres and in laser-based manufacturing of high-quality products.

         At least 10-factor reduction of power consumption and cost in communication technologies for (exa-scale) data centres.

         Significant productivity increase and substantial leverage effects to many industries using laser-based manufacturing.

         Measurable productivity increase in the manufacturing of complex PICs and sustained break-through innovations in new photonic products fabricated in Europe.

b.      Innovation support through public procurement actions

         Faster and wider roll-out and deployment of software defined optical networking technologies and deployment of value-added services and applications in Europe.

c.       Coordination and Support actions

         Demonstrable value generation of novel photonics approaches by researchers and SMEs through enhanced access to advanced fabrication and characterisation facilities.

         Reinforced innovation effectiveness of cluster networks in particular towards SMEs with measurable value creation for SMEs in terms of number of business collaborations stimulated, penetration of new markets and/or new application areas close to the market, etc.

d.      ERA-NET Cofund action

         Closer cooperation and greater pooling of resources between regional, national and EU-wide research programmes in strategic photonics R&I areas.

Types of action:

a.       Research & Innovation Actions – Proposals requesting a Small contribution are expected

b.      Public Procurement of Innovation (PPI) Cofund actions; any remaining funds will be transferred to action type a. above.

c.       Coordination and Support Actions

d.      ERA-NET Cofund Action, any remaining funds will be transferred to action type a. above.

[1]  Wherever appropriate, actions could seek synergies and co-financing from relevant national / regional research and innovation programmes, e.g. structural funds addressing smart specialisation. Actions combining different sources of financing should include a concrete financial plan detailing the use of these funding sources for the different parts of their activities.