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Illuminating the path to market for innovators in photonics The RespiceSME project is proposing new approaches to boost the effectiveness of European photonics SMEs. Project Manager, Samantha Michaux, talked to EU Research about the aims, methods and overcoming the challenges to stimulate photonics SMEs in Europe Photonics applications are

vast and all pervasive but few people outside the direct involvement in photonics research and innovation fully comprehend its reach and potential. “The word photonics is not widely understood in industry, yet it is a branch of science that has a huge impact on our lives and on our economy. For instance, the smart technology we rely on today owes a lot to photonics. We see the results of photonics in the automotive industry, in manufacturing, in applications for the energy sector, for environmental studies and more,” explained Samantha Michaux, Project Coordinator of RespiceSME. The fields of optics and photonics have experienced dramatic technical advances

over the past several decades and have cemented themselves as key enabling technologies across many different industries. Photonics is the science and technology responsible for generating, manipulating and detecting light waves and particles of light, known as photons. Far from being a mysterious fringe science, photonics technology is all around us every day – it’s in the TV remote control, the DVD player, fibre optic connections, the shop barcode scanners, smartphones and laptops, our in-car sensor systems and in lighting systems. For more specialist uses we see photonics in medical instruments, satellite imagery, security systems, manufacturing (lasers cutting) and energy production, such as

PV solar cells, for example. The global market value of photonics technology in the world economy is 300 billion Euros with a projected market value of beyond 600 billion Euros in 2020. The potential therefore, for SMEs in photonics should be huge, yet there is often a disconnect between creating the initial innovations and reaching the marketplace. When that gap between innovation and industry isn’t bridged, opportunity and potential can go to waste. This is where RespiceSME steps in; with a robust formula that enables productive business development strategies. “We provide cluster managers and representatives of organisations

© LITEK (Laser&Engineering Technologies cluster).

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