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Europe signs 3.5bn euros public-private partnership

Staff writer |
The European Commission and the Photonics 21 Association have signed a public-private partnership (PPP) that will see 3.5 billion euros invested into the near-market development of photonics technology as part of the Horizon 2020 innovation program.

Commissioner Neelie Kroes co-signed the agreement, first mooted back in early 2011, with Photonics21 vice presidents Bernd Schulte from deposition equipment provider Aixtron and Giorgio Anania, previously CEO of Bookham Technology and now heading the LED start-up Aledia.

The deal represents the culmination of nearly three years of negotiations between Europe's photonics industry representatives and the Brussels bureaucracy. However, the end results sees only half of the hoped-for investment by the EC in the PPP budget.

Photonics21 stakeholders, who agreed in September 2011 to leverage any central funding for the PPP by a factor of four, had been aiming to negotiate a contribution of €1.4 billion from the EC.

That would have amounted to a €7 billion budget for the PPP overall, but with only €700 million now forthcoming from Brussels, the overall plan will be worth €3.5 billion.

The decision to halve the proposed PPP funding was taken in the midst of negotiations between the EC, the European Parliament and European Council that concluded last month with a new "multiannual financial framework", budget, agreement for the 2014-2020 period.

Ahead of the signing, in a video address recorded at last week's meeting of the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC), Kroes identified photonics as being of "vital economic importance" to Europe, and hailed the PPP agreement as a "crown jewel" within the wider Horizon 2020 innovation program.

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