Photo | Bart van Overbeeke

TU/e put in charge of major photonics program

Under the name PhotonDelta, twenty-five government agencies, companies and knowledge institutes, among them TU/e, signed a covenant in Tilburg in which it is agreed that over the coming years 236 million euros will be invested in accelerating the development of integrated photonics. As of January TU/e is coordinating the new research program InPulse, valued at 17 million euros and intended to drive the production of PIC-activated products (Photonic Integrated Circuit).

photo Bart van Overbeeke

The cooperative alliance to which twenty-five government agencies, companies and knowledge institutes committed themselves this afternoon in Tilburg is known as PhotonDelta, and its participants are keen to see the Netherlands maintain its leading position worldwide in the field of photonics. The market for integrated photonics is expected to double in size every two-and-a-half years. PhotonDelta's ambition for this sector is that in 2026 it will be good for a turnover of a billion euros per year and provide four thousand jobs.

The foundations for PhotonDelta were laid at the end of 2015 when TU/e, the province of North Brabant, the Brabant Development Agency (BOM) and Brainport Development, together with a handful of companies in the Eindhoven region, set up the project ’PhotonDelta’, with funding from the European grant program OpZuid. Other knowledge institutions, provinces and companies soon joined the alliance. In July 2018 PhotonDelta presented a strategic plan to State Secretary Mona Keijzer of Economic Affairs and Climate.


January will see the start of a new European project in which the Netherlands is strongly represented through PhotonDelta: InPulse. TU/e is leading this project and four Dutch companies are participating in it: Phoenix, Smart, Technobis and Bright. A significant proportion of the investment of over 17 million euros in this project is being provided by the European Horizon 2020 program. The business development side of photonics will be the main focus of InPulse.

Two weeks ago in this field another important European project got underway, also led by TU/e and with a geographical focus on the Netherlands. This project - OIP4NWE, worth 14 million euros - is receiving support from the European Fund for Regional Development (Interreg), and is intended to provide for the development of the next generation of production technology.

Both OIP4NWE and InPulse aim to reduce or remove entirely the barriers faced by small innovative businesses wanting to develop photonic products and launch them commercially. In the second phase of InPulse, the parties envisage developing roughly thirty different products with PIC functionality (photonic integrated circuit). At present this capability is shared by only a small number of pioneering companies.

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