New photonic products have an increasing complexity and require very often international collaborations. EU funding is by far the largest source of financing for such collaborations and offers a lot different opportunities. The EU funding is in fact, in Sweden, a source of funding for research and innovation which compares with Vinnova’s financing. The main opportunities are (the descriptions are not exhaustive):
Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever, with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – without counting the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market. Horizon 2020 is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness. Horizon 2020 consists of 3 main components and a few other separate topics. The most interesting parts of each for researchers and innovators in Photonics are highlighted below:
- Excellent Science: It consists mostly of funding for individual researchers, for infrastructure and for collaborative projects of very explorative character. Within the latter opportunity, called Future and Emerging Technologies (FET), our observation is that Photonics is very successful and has found a lot of space in the FET Open category for projects on new ideas for radically new future technologies.
- Industrial Leadership: This pillar aims to speed up development of the technologies and innovations that will underpin tomorrow’s businesses and help innovative European SMEs to grow into world-leading companies. It consists of:
- Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies: This is where calls for collaborative projects directly dealing with Photonics are found, in the ICT work programme (ICT – Information and Communiction Technologies). (Primary NCP for ICT: Johan Lindberg, Vinnova)
- Access to risk finance: access to loans, guarantees, counter-guarantees and hybrid, mezzanine and equity finance. (Primary NCP: Karin Aase, Vinnova)
- Innovation in SMEs: Two very interesting instruments for Photonics SMEs: a) SME instrument, where a single company can be financed. b) Eurostars, collaborative projects with a very low administrative load. (Primary NCP: Karin Aase, Vinnova)
- Societal Challenges: As a key enabling technology, Photonics is relevant to nearly all societal challenges. Although there are many opportunities, companies or research groups from the photonics field are not likely to launch and coordinate projects in this category. The chances to be involved will mostly depend on the participation to appropriate EU networks.
- Other topics:
- Science with and for Society
- Cross-cutting activities in which Factories of the Future is very relevant for Photonics.
- Fast track to innovation pilot
- European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)
(Contact person at Vinnova is Andrej Litwin)
ECSEL is complementing Horizon 2020 and notably focused on higher TRLs (Technology Readiness Levels) large scale federating projects and integrated demonstrations and pilots. The financing comes from the European Commission and the involved member states. Vinnova is administrating the participation of Sweden in ECSEL (Vinnova’s info). Photonics is very much present in ECSEL at the EU level, somewhat less at the Swedish level. A third call of ECSEL is opening on Feb. 22, 2017, and has two deadlines (May 11 and Sept. 21). The financing level has been an issue, but it has apparently been strongly improved recently.
Vinnova contact for ICT part of Erueka is Jonas Bjarne
EUREKA is a publicly-funded, intergovernmental network, involving over 40 countries. EUREKA’s aim is to enhance European competitiveness by fostering innovation-driven entrepreneurship in Europe, between small and large industry, research institutes and universities. Vinnova is financing and administrating the Swedish participation in Eureka (see Vinnova’s info). For the period 2014-2020, Vinnova will allocate 13 million SEK per year. Eureka has three programmes:
- Cluster – thematic programmes for collaboration between academy and industry. Sweden is active in three clusters:
- Celtic-Plus: focus on telecommunications.
- ITEA3: focus on Software-intensive Systems & Services (SiSS)
- EURIPIDES2: Smart system and relevant technologies. A large room for photonic technologies.
- Network projects – for bilateral collaborations. Bottom-up and rather simple.
- Eurostars – for SMEs. It focuses on R&D-performing SMEs. Bottom-up and simple. Eurostars supports the development of rapidly marketable innovative products, processes and services that help improve the daily lives of people around the world.
Five main Funds work together to support economic development across all EU countries, in line with the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is the most relevant one for what regards research and innovation and SMEs. Our EU project EPRISE is addressing the issue of co-funding actions between e.g. Horizon 2020 and ERDF. In Sweden, quite many programmes to support SMEs are financed from ERDF and administrated by Tillväxtverket, the Swedish Agency for Economical and Regional Growth. This financing opportunity is far from being negligible even in a rich region like Stockholm.
- INTERREG: This programme for interregional collaborations is financed by ERDF and in Sweden administrated by Tillväxtverket. Interreg stimulate the collaboration between different cities and regions throughout Europe to to learn from each others throuh common programmes, projects or networks. Sweden is participating in 14 Interreg programmes. The information is gathered here. Collaboration around the Baltic Sea is becoming more and more important and one particularly interesting programme for Swedish actors active in photonics is the Baltic Sea Region programme.
Some information about, and support concerning, relevant open Calls of Horizon 2020:
- EU SME Support 2020: Free help and support for SMEs (obs! only in Swedish)
- Photonics KET 2017 (Call identifier: ICT-30-2017): Deadline April 25!
- SME Instrument
- Factories of the Future
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