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Photonics Digital Innovation Hub secures €19 million to boost SME growth and ensure Europe’s global competitiveness

Photonics Finland and VTT are two of the 53 European partners in PhotonHub Europe – a new pan-European photonics digital innovation hub – that has been awarded €19 million investment from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme. PhotonHub Europe will help European SMEs and mid-caps become highly competitive digital businesses through faster and smarter deployment of photonics-based technologies, directly creating over 1.000 new high-tech EU jobs and nearly €1 billion in new revenues and venture capital by 2025.

“European industry needs to be at the forefront in innovating with photonics, making the most of our combined strengths across all parts of the innovation value chain, and working collaboratively across all member states, to support European business innovation and growth. This is the motivation behind the establishment of PhotonHub Europe which is directly building on top of over 15 years of previous European projects and collaborative efforts by all of the organisations involved in developing and integrating the infrastructure necessary for such a major undertaking”, said Prof Hugo Thienpont, Director of Brussels Photonics (B-PHOT) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and overall coordinator of PhotonHub Europe.

In order to accelerate the uptake and deployment of photonics technologies by European industry, PhotonHub will establish a single photonics innovation hub which integrates all of the best-in-class photonics technologies, facilities, expertise and experience of 53 top competence centres across Europe under one roof as a one-stop-shop solution with open access for any company anywhere in Europe that wants to innovate with photonics.

PhotonHub will provide European companies, in particular “non-photonics” SMEs and mid-caps that are first users and early adopters of photonics, with open access and guided orienteering through the PhotonHub front office in Brussels, across a broad range of services and capabilities covering:

  • training and upskilling supports
  • “test before invest” innovation support
  • supports to find investment

PhotonHub Europe will work with the local photonics hubs from the “lighthouse regions” where photonics is already well established in order to develop best practice models for SME innovation support and to disseminate these best practices widely to support the development of new innovation hubs covering most regions of Europe.

PhotonHub will collaborate with key European associations such as the European Regions Research and Innovation Network (ERRIN) and the Assembly of European Regions (AER) to help disseminate the support model for photonics innovation and grow the pan-European ecosystem of local photonics hubs, as well as working closely with well-established pan-European SME support networks such as Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) and the European Business Network (EBN) to open up access to the photonics innovation ecosystem for all European SMEs.

Furthermore, through its close collaboration and alignment with the European Technology Platform for Public-Private Partnership between the EC, academia and industry – Photonics21 – on the strategy for photonics development in Europe, and by tightly linking the activities of PhotonHub with those of other European Digital Innovation Hubs through its digital community-building platform, PhotonHub will ensure fast user-friendly access for European SMEs to the broadest possible range of advanced photonics expertise and technologies on the European scale, covering the entire value chain from TRL3-8.

”PhotonHub Europe focus is to help companies to bring new value to their products through photonics solutions; companies that don´t yet know about the photonics possibilities and benefits are the main customers. For companies PhotonHub Europe consortium partners offers their valuable knowledge from designing to prototyping and manufacturing products. VTT has been part of the consortium from the beginning to develop the working processes during several EU projects, including ACTPHAST 4.0 that is still running, parallel with PhotonHub Europe”, said D.Sc. Pentti Karioja, principle scientist from VTT.

In PhotonHub Europe Photonics Finland will be working closely together with other project partners on a broad European outreach to companies in photonics industries as well as “non-photonics” end user industries, especially first user and early adopter SMEs, to generate networks of high-quality industry leads. This will provide orienteering to the best-placed support services on a European scale.
Photonics Finland will also be working on developing an effective business plan for long-term sustainability of the European innovation hub. This will include working collaboratively with the local innovation hubs in photonics to boost the financial leverage through regional co-funding, as well as supporting the development of new innovation hubs and network-building across the hubs to create a strong pan-European ecosystem for photonics innovation which is tightly linked to the supply chain for manufacturing in Europe. Through Photonics Finland Finnish photonics and “non-photonics” SME companies will be able to participate in the European ecosystem and build innovative photonics collaborations on European level.

“Photonics Finland is delighted to be part of the growth of Photonics across European regions and we are looking forward to expanding our network, strengthening the cross-border innovation ecosystem and providing our members with opportunities to grow”, said Juha Purmonen, executive director of Photonics Finland.

PhotonHub Europe will commence operations from early 2021 and will be operating a continuous open call for companies to apply for its support services. Applications for support will be facilitated online through the PhotonHub website located at

Read the full press release HERE and see the list of partner organizations HERE

For more information about the project contact:
PhD Ana Gebejes
Head of Projects
Photonics Finland
+358 41 4760 113