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The light-Emitting Austrian Network

Photonics continue to remain a source for technological developments as well as their areas of application for economic value creation. The field of photonics offers unique approaches serving as the basis for mastering numerous challenges faced by modern-day industry through efficiency, cost reductions and energy savings.

"Almost everything we know about the world, we have learned through light!"
– Prof. Dr. T.W. Hänsch, Nobel Prize Winner

Photonics Austria, which plays a key role in promoting photonic technologies, was initiated by the Federal Ministry of Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology. As a platform, it primarily serves the purpose of linking business, research and teaching in order to achieve a strong presence on a national and international level.

The network of Photonics Austria features more than 40 members, from startups to large companies as well as research institutions. It brings together a broad spectrum of photonics organisations and end users. The members benefit from networking activities such as networking meetings with photonics experts within the context of association meetings, innovation workshops and working group sessions. Collaboration with other platforms and clusters is also promoted at national and international events and at thematic networking and brokerage events.

Photonics Austria advocates the interests of its members, determines national research needs and serves as a mediator vis-a-vis political and administrative bodies. Austrian interests are represented on a European level within the context of the public-private partnership "Photonics21".
In addition to the networks, the core tasks of Photonics Austria include the preparation of up-to-date information pertaining to regional, national and European funding programmes and partner contacts in the field of photonics and the bundling of all photonics-related activities, from events and publications to technologies. The areas of focus are dealt with in expert groups, for example in the field of laser production or sustainable process design (photonics for a green society).

At present, Photonics Austria is involved in the EU project ACTPHAST in cooperation with JOANNEUM RESEARCH. ACTPHAST is a unique one-stop-shop incubator for rapid prototyping in the photonics industry. It particularly aims to support SMEs. Companies benefit from direct access to specialised know-how and a state-of-the-art infrastructure as well as the bundled competencies of seven photonics technology platforms. These are characterised by specialisation in the fields of freeform optics, optical fibres, large area organic photonics MOEMs and photonic integrated circuits.

Small companies as well as research organisations can receive financial support for research output of up to € 100,000. In this case, the first € 30,000 is entirely financed, with a subsidy granted to cover 75 percent of the additional project costs, including follow-up projects.

At the beginning of 2021, a new European initiative will establish a central photonics innovation centre called PhotonHub Europe. This will be designed to serve as the first point of contact and provide a one-stop-shop solution for every European company aiming to act innovatively on the basis of photonics. Guided orientation events combined with a broad spectrum of services and resources should facilitate the ability of companies to enter this field. More specifically, PhotonHub Europe will provide

• support with education and professional development,
• support in searching for investors and
• "test before invest" innovation promotion.

Austria is represented by JOANNEUM RESEARCH in its capacity as a Technology Support Provider and Photonics Austria as a photon hub.
Access to the two projects mentioned in the article is not tied to any particular company size. However, funding terms and conditions may vary.

Read more about the topic of the electronics industry in Austria.

DI Ulrich Trog & Michael Wurzinger, MSc.

JOANNEUM RESEARCH & Photonics Austria

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