Innovation support fund launches second call for uptake of photonic integration technology

8 DECEMBER 2021, Eindhoven, The Netherlands | The open innovation program OIP4NWE launches its second call for innovation support to stimulate uptake of integrated photonics technology by European-based companies. Up to 5 companies will receive innovation support from the OIP4NWE consortium.

By providing innovation support to SMEs and large-scale enterprises across Europe, OIP4NWE contributes to the competitiveness and innovativeness of European companies on the global markets. The pilot line has now launched its second call for innovation support. Five companies are eligible for receiving innovation support and working together with OIP4NWE’s partners in an open innovation framework to help mature their PIC-based products.

“The fund provides SMEs and large-scale companies in Europe with a unique opportunity to get innovation support for maturing their PIC-based products,” says Professor Jürgen Van Erps, Vrije Universiteit Brussel - Brussels Photonics.

Application areas

Integrated photonics is a technology in which manipulation of light takes place on a chip. This allows for product innovation that exploits the PIC advantages, amongst others compactness, cost and robustness. The technology can have a substantial benefit in a large range of markets, including Data and Telecom, Medical Devices and Life Sciences, Infrastructure and Transportation, and Food and Agriculture.

Three application partners – mBryonics, PhotonFirst and VTEC Lasers & Sensors – are currently testing and validating the entire pilot line: PIC manufacturing, external optics and packaging with established designs. mBryonics is working on free space optical communication, PhotonFirst works on PIC-based structural health monitoring applications, and VTEC works in the fiber optic communications domain.

The other parties involved are the companies AIXTRON SE (Germany) and SMART Photonics (Netherlands), along with academic partners Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands), Tyndall National Institute (Ireland) and Vrije Universiteit Brussels (Belgium), clusters Photonics Bretagne (France), NanoMicroMaterialsPhotonics.NRW (Germany) and PhotonDelta (Netherlands).

Three manufacturing stages

OIP4NWE consists of three manufacturing stages for creating the PIC-based modules.  SMART Photonics will carry out the frontend manufacturing of photonic chips, using state-of-the art fabrication technologies with an increasing degree of automation.

The photonic chips can be interfaced to the outside world using (freeform) micro-optics fabricated at the Photonics Campus Gooik of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium. This includes mode conversion tapers, high-quality micro-optical and micro-mechanical components with sub-micrometer precision, and optofluidic devices for lab-on-chip applications.

Finally, the photonic chips will be packaged at Tyndall National Institute, Ireland, in order to connect the PIC with the outside world via glass fibers and electrical wiring. Processes include highly accurate optical alignment, high speed electrical interconnections and solutions for thermal management.

Innovation support fund practicalities

Interested companies can fill in an expression of interest form to check if their idea is in scope with the innovation support fund. The call for applications is open until 31 May 2022, with an intermediate evaluation slot with deadline on 28 February 2022. The outcome of the applications will be announced on 31 March 2022 (slot 1) and on 30/06/2022 (slot 2).

Innovation support fund covers:

  1. Design verification for compatibility check of the PIC design with the OIP4NWE capabilities
  2. Manufacturing of the PICs, external optics and packaging

Innovation support has a value of max. €50k. The funding level is respectively 80% for SMEs and 50% for large-scale companies up to the maximum support of 50k€. Above the maximum support of 50k€, the cost should be carried fully by the company (irrespective of whether it is an SME or a large-scale company).

More details about the innovation support fund and application criteria can be found here.


Contact us

Contact Jürgen van Erps, Vrije Universiteit Brussel ( for more information about the innovation support fund and the application procedure.

Contact for any other questions or requests.


Share this

Tweet Share