PhotonDelta is one of Europe's leading innovation hubs, amplifying existing initiatives and kick-starting new ones regarding the Photonics business.
The European Photonics market has an exponential growth potential, which is now worth around €70 billion, representing 18% of the global market, being dominated by SME’s. Public funding is needed to bridge the gap between working prototypes leaving the research lab and the point at which the chips are ready to be manufactured in quantity. PhotonDelta was established in 2016 as a project initiative from Eindhoven University of Technology and backed by the Province of Noord Brabant and Brainport Development. It is taking the lead in mobilizing funding to support research and innovation in SME’s. At the same time, actively linking best-in-class research and development to best business practice, necessary because a fragmented approach is never going to scale this technology. Disruptive innovation comes when young companies get access to the knowledge already gained by high-tech enterprises and applied research institutes.
Three pillars exist under PhotonDelta:
• The Institute of Photonic Integration, building on 40 years of optics research at Eindhoven University of Technology – in cooperation with other nanotechnology centres like Mesa+ at the University of Twente and Saxion University of Applied Sciences.
• The Cooperative: a consortium of scale-ups, manufacturers and investors.
• The Photonic Integration Technology Center (PITC), currently being established, branching out on Europe-wide work done in circuits and components by JePPIX (Photonics Fabrication Broker)

Resources needed

A need for €246 mln is estipulated for the coming 8 years in order to create a “one-stop-shop” for the development and manufacture of integrated photonic chips in the Netherlands, of which 75% in cash and 25% in kind.

Evidence of success

• Eco-system: in a short period of time a strong PPP was created, representing a unique triple helix organisation along the whole value chain. This resulted in an 8 year plan, designed by all partners, with the ambition to create an ecosystem of 25 companies, by 2030 offering 4000 jobs and a 1 miljard revenue.
• Opinion leadership: Photondelta managed to put integrated photonics on the political agenda. E.g. regional/national governments committed to take part in the necessary €242 investment.

Difficulties encountered

Integrated Photonics is a disruptive technology. Only through strong collaboration along the whole value chain and with large investments, including substantial public funding, the economic potential can be exploited and Europe can keep up with international competition.

Potential for learning or transfer

• The importance of enhancing a strong vision, surpassing the level of individual industries or regional level, and rather think in terms of supply chains throughout Europe
• How to build an innovation hub, getting stakeholders on board:
- Triple helix
- Along the entire supply chain, including start ups, suppliers etc.
- From different regions and countries
• The success of PhotonDelta to build a European platform for photonics, is evidence of the importance of defining more focus in public funding and also to substantially increase public funding for key enabling technologies in order to overcome the valley of death.
• This example shows how important it is to better align different policy instruments in Europe with each other in order to develop specialized supply chains throughout Europe, rather than being scattered among isolated initiatives.

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Main institution
Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)
Drenthe, Netherlands (Nederland)
Start Date
End Date


Ilse van Gulik Please login to contact the author.