The goal is to identify the European photonic clusters that have unique and valuable propositions, capabilities and capacities in the various supply and value chains.


Formed in September 2017, the European Photonics Alliance is an active network of European Digital Innovation Hubs and clusters. Each member has deep domain knowledge of light-based technologies, often termed “photonics”. This is one of the 6 key-enabling technologies defined by the European Commission in Horizon2020. The regions listed here have identified Photonics as one of their Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation.

Photonics important to other industries

Photonics is starting to have a knock-on effect in different sectors of society including healthcare (needle-free testing for diseases), secure 5G communications, self-driving vehicles, food safety tests for pathogens as well as environment monitoring on earth and from space. It’s becoming clearer that light-based technologies are the key to building smaller, cheaper, faster devices to solve a lot of these grand societal challenges.

Because of the complex nature of these (nano)technologies, Europe needs an inter-regional collaborative approach if it wants to scale up Photonics companies. The partners want to maintain their lead in the development of Photonic Integrated Chips. Scaling up to volume manufacture of chips and products are important for a financially, socially and environmentally sustainable industry.

Small and medium sized high-tech companies developing new photonics sensors and systems-on-a-chip are moving on to the next stage. They are at a much higher “Investor Readiness Level” than three years ago. Many ideas have left the lab and innovative, disruptive companies are validating their product-market fit.

The Photonics product lifecycle has dropped from 20 to approximately 5 years. SME’s tell the Alliance they want independent, trusted, “hands on help” to accelerate their time to market. Part of the work involves organizing inter-regional collaborative workshops and technology clinics with NON-photonics companies. Other outreach involves learning from sectors such semi-conductors who have faced similar challenges in scaling production.

The goal of the Alliance is to amplify existing inter-regional initiatives and, when needed, kick-start new ones. Our focus is on building projects with inter-regional collaboration. Five members of the Alliance are also active partners in the EPRISE project which is organising successful outreach workshops on a local and national level.

European Photonics Alliance

Dr. Anna Nikiel, part of the management team of PhotonDelta, introduces the European Photonics Alliance. This investment idea of the Photonics partnership intends to assist independent photonics ecosystems in achieving synergy across Europe.

Thematic working areas

  • Photonics Integrated Circuits (PICs) led by South Netherlands, East Netherlands and Berlin,
  • Sensing, Measuring and Imaging led by PACA, Mazovia, North Korelia and Thuringia,
  • Optical Fibres for Industry led by Bretagne and Mazovia,
  • Pilot Facility for Photonics-based Manufacturing led by North-Rhine Westfalia.

List of regions involved

Contact details of the leading regions

Contact details of DG REGIO

Related documents

Monitoring reports containing a management report and a progress report prepared by the lead regions are available here:
Monitoring report Photonics January-June 2020
(309 KB - PDF)

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