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Funding opportunities for integrated photonics startups

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on the PhotonDelta website and is reposted here with their permission.

PhotonDelta announced in April 2022 they had landed €1.1 billion in public and private investment to transform the Netherlands into the leader of next generation semiconductors. PhotonDelta’s mission is to invest in 200 integrated photonics startups. PhotonDelta is a partner of the HighTechXL program with whom we collaborate closely to strengthen the photonics ecosystem.

As an ecosystem supporting the innovation, production, and assembly of Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs) and applications, we help connect tech developers with suitable financing opportunities, and a range of co-investment solutions from PhotonDelta. 

Who can benefit from funding through PhotonDelta?

We offer help and advice to partners in the PhotonDelta ecosystem on the range of funding available to them. With a presence in the Netherlands, these companies will have formed a legal entity, and will typically be (early-) stage start-ups and scale-ups with proof of concept and a prototype in place (for scale-ups). 

They’ll be actively seeking to become part of the ecosystem, and looking for an initial investment between €250,000 to over €2.5 million. They could be a company with a presence in the Netherlands, or already a key collaborator with one of our partners.

Not sure if your business is eligible? Read our funding criteria or get in touch with our Fund Manager.

How does PhotonDelta support investment in integrated photonics?

PhotonDelta is able to invest in companies active in our ecosystem. This is evaluated on a case by case basis and is intended to help accelerate the development of the ecosystem.  Any investment from PhotonDelta always requires a minimum 50% co-investment from a third party. And we can help you in this process as well.

Our solutions are bespoke to each business we work with and range from equity investments to Capex debt financing and combinations of the sort.

For investors, our ecosystem provides a way to mitigate risk: PhotonDelta is sometimes a lead investor, but more commonly than not we act as a co-investor alongside third parties, and an external lead investor. 

We also co-invest alongside regional development organisations. In addition, we can help SMEs find the best financing solution through various initiatives and organizations – including EU funding.

How does the funding process work?

Our expertise and expansive network of tech developers, investors, and users means that when it comes to integrated photonics, we offer the big picture to all stakeholders. With this industry insight, we assess due diligence, and the specific needs of each business we work with, to arrive at a sensible strategy for investment. In the initial phases, we also offer expert advice in putting a solid proposition together.

Project proposals can be submitted throughout the year. There are five phases.

  • Phase 1: Project proposals must be declared admissible.
  • Phase 2: Proposals are scored on a number of criteria.
  • Phase 3: Proposals are subject to technical, legal, and financial review.
  • Phase 4: Proposals are evaluated by an independent investment committee. 
  • Phase 5: A formal decision is made by PhotonDelta (and cannot be appealed).

Alongside the funding criteria, all applications must address the aims of the National Strategic Plan Of PhotonDelta. We review every application for funding on a case by case basis. Send us your business plan and investment memorandum. Submissions can be made via email: 

Open Funding Opportunities

European SMEs have access to a wide range of funding opportunities:

PhotonHub Europe

PhotonHub offers a fast and effective ‘test before invest’ innovation support service. They support the entire value chain, from early-stage concept and prototyping (TRL3-4) to upscaling (TRL5-6) to manufacturing (TRL7-8). This includes funding opportunities for TRL 3-4 and TRL 5-6. PhotonDelta is a lead partner for upscaling projects, offering expertise and ecosystem capabilities for innovation projects and SMEs. How to apply >

OIP4NWE Voucher Call

The Interreg NWE project OIP4NWE aims to establish an open innovation pilot line for the development of generic photonic integration technology. Their second call for innovation support is aimed at European-based companies seeking to mature their photonics products. Vouchers are being offered to lower the barrier for companies to use their pilot line. How to apply >

NWO Knowledge And Innovation Covenant (KIC)

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) annually develops mission driven programs. Their latest program, key technologies for minimally invasive interventions in healthcare, focuses on the use of key technologies – including integrated photonics – to help improve minimally invasive treatments and patient outcomes. How to apply >

MedPhab Voucher Call

MedPhab accelerates photonic device development for medical applications. Europe’s first pilot line for photonics-based medical devices has launched an open call to provide technology development services to companies adopting advanced photonics technologies in the medical diagnostics solutions. Subsidised support is available for up to 20 businesses. How to apply >

Relevant Documents:

Who are the PhotonDelta convenant partners?

  • Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK)
  • Brainport Foundation
  • Regiofonds Brainport BV
  • Brainport Development NV
  • PhotonDelta Foundation
  • TKI HTSM Foundation
  • The Provinces of Gelderland, Overijssel and North Brabant,
  • East Netherlands Development Agency (Oost NL)
  • Brabant Development Agency (BOM)
  • Dutch Research Council (NWO)
  • Dutch Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO)
  • Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)
  • University of Twente (UTwente)
  • Radboud University
  • Fraunhofer Project Center (FPC) of the University of Twente
  • Saxion University of Applied Sciences
  • Novel-T Foundation
  • CITC Foundation