Innovating as a non-photonics company: Answers from our PhotonHub project leaders
PhotonHub Europe exists for two years! In B-PHOT's annual review report earlier this year, we took the time for an exciting Q&A with two of B-PHOT’s leading figures of the project, Susan Brindley and Peter Doyle.
Q: What is PhotonHub Europe?
Susan Brindley: "PhotonHub Europe is a unique European full-service one-stop-shop digital innovation hub for photonics. It provides European photonics and non-photonics companies, in particular SMEs and mid-caps, with open access and guided orientation to a broad range of services and capabilities. PhotonHub supports are ideally suited to the needs of both first users and early adopters. It can help in achieving the wider and faster uptake, integration, and deployment of photonic technologies in innovative products across a range of industry sectors for scaled-up business growth and production in Europe. Many of the available supports are provided free of charge and PhotonHub operates a continuous open call – companies can express their interest in availing of support by submitting an online application at any time."
Q: Who is involved in PhotonHub?
Peter Doyle: "PhotonHub has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program in Public Private Partnership with Photonics21. The project, which is coordinated by VUB Brussels Photonics, includes a diverse network of partner organisations across Europe involved as Technology Support Providers, Local Photonics Hubs, Business Support Providers or Associate Partners."
Q: What type of support is available?
Susan Brindley: "PhotonHub’s current range of support encompasses five types of support: First, we offer Photonics Technology Innovation support for early-stage feasibility testing & prototyping, industrial upscaling of first prototypes through small-series pilot production and connecting with suitable mass manufacturing partners."
"Second, we provide Photonics Training or Upskilling support in key application or specialist technology domains. Third, Investor Matchmaking support to help find suitable venture capital or corporate investment funding in the domain of photonics and photonics-enabled businesses."
"Fourth, we offer Business Coaching support to boost market-readiness in deploying photonics technologies. Finally, we provide General Orienteering support in connecting with key people and organisations in the European photonics ecosystem. These supports can be delivered concurrently or on a phased basis as appropriate."
Q: Who can avail of PhotonHub support?
Susan Brindley: "All European companies interested in innovating through photonics are welcome to apply for support. PhotonHub is specifically aimed at SMEs and is particularly seeking applications from non-photonics companies."
Q: Can students, researchers or PhD candidates apply?
Peter Doyle: "The project has been designed to support industry. Currently, applications can only be accepted from registered companies. However, students, researchers or PhD candidates could consider applying for other EU-funded programmes such as ACTPHAST 4Researchers."
Q: Are there any specific eligibility criteria for companies to avail of Technology Innovation Support?
Susan Brindley: "PhotonHub was established with the objective of supporting highly innovative, cross-border collaborative projects with European companies covering the full value of chain of innovation activities. Therefore, only fully approved innovation projects with a cross-border dimension are eligible to receive financial support. The company seeking support and the selected partner with whom they are collaborating must be based in different countries in Europe. In the case of a collaboration with more than one partner, a project is eligible to receive support if one of the partners is based in a different country in Europe."
Q: How is PhotonHub’s training delivered?
Peter Doyle: "PhotonHub Europe acts as a one-stop-shop matchmaker between European SMEs and the existing European ecosystem of photonics training providers to offer a dedicated suite of training services. These include online sessions providing a general introduction to photonics for first-time users as well as more specialised courses for early adopters in European industries. These online training sessions, usually 2 to 2.5 hours in duration, are free of charge. For those wishing to immerse themselves into the diverse technologies and applications of photonics, PhotonHub partners also offer hands-on training sessions in their state-of-the-art Demo Centres which are 1-day onsite and Experience Centres which are 3 days onsite throughout Europe. Fees apply for participating in onsite hands-on training programmes at Demo and Experience Centres."
Q: How can I find out more about PhotonHub?
Susan Brindley: "For details on the range of supports provided and the latest news on PhotonHub, please visit our website photonhub.eu and follow PhotonHub on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. You should also join the PhotonHub Europe Community where all content is particularly suited to companies innovating with photonics. Members can digitally network and connect with others through the platform."