Visions for Photonics as a Key Enabling Technology - European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes welcomes Position Paper

 5th Annual Meeting of the European Technology Platform Photonics21 puts focus on future EU funding for Research and Innovation

Brussels February 24, 2011 /The 21st century will be the century of the photon, as much as the 20th century was the century of the electron. Photonics – the science of optical applications – is expected to have an even greater impact on society and industry in Europe and throughout the world. Important R&D achievements have led the photonics industry to an inflection point from emerging high-tech industry towards mass production in a wide range of industries. The challenge in closing the gap in the innovation chain will be to stimulate and accelerate market deployment of photonics research results. At the same time, securing future EU funding for continued research and innovation will be a key challenge in the spirit of FP8. These are the main considerations in the Visions for Photonics published today and handed over to EC Vice President Neelie Kroes at the 5th Annual Meeting of Photonics21, the European Technology Platform.
Today, at its 5th Annual Meeting in Brussels, the European photonics industry handed over its position paper “Our Vision for Photonics as a Key Enabling Technology for Europe” to Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda. Martin Goetzeler (President of Photonics21 and CEO of Osram) underlined the great contributions photonics already made in most areas of life. “As light is such a versatile tool”, commented Mr. Goetzeler, “photonics will have an even larger impact on future lives and will be able to revolutionize societies and industries around the globe.” Today photonics applications reach from optical fibers to modern luminaries such as LEDs and OLEDs, to bio-photonics in healthcare and disease prevention, sensors and surveillance technologies for safety, security and environmental control. And photonics also leads the way to high-tech ubiquity laser technologies used in many manufacturing processes.
Demonstration Projects and Public Procurement
“Photonics”, explained Mr. Goetzeler, “is a key driver for sustainable economic growth in Europe, as it progresses at double digit growth rates. Currently about 10% of turnover of the photonics industry is spent on R&D and more than 40,000 jobs have been created in Europe within 3 years. And thereby I am not even considering the indirect impacts photonics as a key enabling technology has on the European economy.”
The photonics industry has now reached an inflection point from an emerging high-tech industry towards mass production and industrialization – very much comparable to what happened to electronics when the transistor was invented in the 1940s. However, it is crucial to make the step from development towards application in market solutions. Larger and bolder demonstration projects supported by public procurement are now needed to bring photonics to the next level.
Future Funding: Bridging the gap in the innovation chain
Looking at the future of this key enabling technology, Mr. Goetzeler emphasized the R&D successes of the European photonics industry as driving force for many segments in the European economic life. However, there is a gap in the innovation chain between the research results in the area of applied research on one hand and commercialization and market deployment on the other hand.
“We miss out on the opportunity to sufficiently exploit R&D successes in terms of growth, jobs and prosperity for Europe’s society.” said Mr. Goetzeler. “What we need is a comprehensive, fully fledged Research AND Innovation Strategy which allows us to translate scientific excellence into innovative future products, processes and applications faster, more focused and more market oriented.”
With regard to the recently launched Green Paper “From challenges to opportunities: towards a common strategic framework for EU Research and Innovation funding” which was commonly published by the seven
Commissioners involved, Goetzeler underlined its findings and welcomed its goals for making European future funding more effective. He offered the platforms support and input in the upcoming consultation phase.
Photonics - large impact in the area of the Digital Agenda
In her Key Note speech at the Annual Meeting, European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes highlighted that "when I think of photonics, I think of the importance of ICT research and innovation for our productivity growth. To me, your work equals higher rates of economic growth." She saw many "areas where Photonics is delivering the Digital Agenda and thereby transforming our world." For example, "in health care, photonics will allow very early and very accurate detection of diseases like cancer, sometimes even before there are any symptoms, allowing more effective and less invasive treatment." "I am pleased you have addressed all of these areas, and many others in addition, in your Vision Paper. ", Mrs Kroes said.
She concluded by challenging the "European Photonics Industry as a whole, to consider engaging in a public-private partnership with us in the area of photonics R&I" and emphasised the need for a "strong commitment by all partners" in such an endeavor.
  • You can read the Photonics21 President's Presentation on the Vision Paper here.
  • For viewing the full Review & Outlook by President Goetzeler please click here.
  • To read more about the status of the Key Enabling Technology Initiative please click here.
  • To read more about the Meeting Photonics21 held with Comissioner Günther Oettinger from DG Energy please click here.
  • Please find the pdf version of the media release here.
For further information:
Wendy Luyckx / Corneel Maes
Porter Novelli
[Ursula Tober, Consultant Laser & OpticResearch, Photonics21, Phone: +49 211 6214 668]

Source: Photonics21