Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) working with photonics in life sciences markets can benefit from the support offered by a consortium of European partners, as part of the Horizon 2020 project EPRISE (Empowering Photonics through Regional Innovation Strategies in Europe). This 30 month long project, which finished at the end of June 2019, focussed on removing barriers to commercialisation for photonics SMEs in four market sectors in which Europe is a market leader, namely: medical technologies, pharmaceuticals, food and agriculture.
Europe’s photonics industry faces global market competition and has to cope with very high speed of technological developments in the field. Companies developing photonics-based products for these markets face highly specific Go-to-Market challenges such as long timescales to market adoption and complex regulatory frameworks, amongst others. The EPRISE project involved nine leading European photonics innovation clusters and aimed to improve access to expertise, technology and funding for photonics product development. The project outputs will help to accelerate the delivery of new photonics products to the market.
Among the resources created during the project is the Photonics Companies Database, which maps industry and academic groups that perform photonics work in these market sectors in Europe. The database helps to foster collaboration by allowing businesses to quickly identify one another. The separate Experts Database enables companies to locate and access people with the specialist knowledge they need to progress to market, from business advice to expertise in target markets and photonics applications. A “Go-To-Market” booklet has also been published, outlining the key market-entry challenges faced by companies in these market sectors, with specialist insights and advice on how to overcome them.
These resources are also being used to inform regional and national policy makers about the importance of photonics companies to their local economy and innovation in these key markets. All EPRISE partners are involved in disseminating the outcomes of the project to foster alignment and support for the European Commission’s Digital Innovation Hubs strategy.
Cecilia Pinto, EPRISE Project Coordinator, said: “We are delighted with the development of these easily accessible online resources that can bolster the European photonics market. We hope that work from the EPRISE project leads to increased collaboration in the sector and easier access to valuable expertise, both of which can help to deliver new innovations in photonics.”
Photonics has been identified by the European Commission as a key enabling technology for new innovations in healthcare, agriculture and food. The applications are far-reaching, from non-invasive diagnostic treatments to precision farming methods that can improve the efficiency of crop production. CPI, one of the project partners, has photonics capabilities based at the National Centre of Healthcare Photonics in the North East of England. This is an €8.5 million facility that houses expertise and technology capable of manufacturing photonics products at the quality required for entry into clinical trials.
Tom Harvey, Healthcare Photonics Lead at CPI, said: “We are proud to have been part of this fantastic project, helping companies to overcome challenges associated with photonics commercialisation. Through work at the National Healthcare Photonics Centre, we will continue to facilitate commercialisation of new photonics products that can deliver tangible benefits to patients.”
The project has been funded by the European Commission through the ICT part of the Horizon 2020 Programme in collaboration with Photonics21. The resources detailed in this press release, along with slides and videos of presentations by industry experts from the project’s European Photonics Roadshow, a series of events hosted by seven European countries, can all be accessed free of charge on via this website.