The consortium partners of the Network for Exchange and Prototype Evaluation of Photonics Components and Optical Systems (NEXPRESSO) held their final review meeting with the European Commission (EC). Through the support of the NEXPRESSO project, which received funding from the EU’s 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7) programme (grant agreement No. 258178), prototype photonic devices were bought from European companies for use in new university research, allowing evaluation and consequent improvement of the devices and the opportunity to open up new markets for the devices through publicity of the research activities and findings.
According to Thierry Gonthiez, chief executive officer of start-up company Resolution Spectra Systems (member of EPIC and participant in NEXPRESSO, in 2012 Resolution Spectra Systems delivered a prototype of a spectrometer to a laboratory that it hadn’t known previously. With this product, the laboratory could develop a new laser source. The prototype became a product that was a Prism Award finalist in 2013 and is used today by customers in the US, Europe, Japan and soon China. The NEXPRESSO model helped Resolution Spectra to facilitate its technological development and commercial expansion.
• The NEXPRESSO project ran between September 2010 and February 2014.
• 42 new photonic components were offered for use in research and development (R&D) projects.
• 40 projects were proposed.
• €225,000 EUR (~$311,000 USD) of components were purchased by the NEXPRESSO consortium.
• 11 R&D projects used the components for research into healthcare, advanced materials, energy efficient lighting, advanced manufacturing and new photonic device development.
• Feedback generated through the NEXPRESSO project activity allowed improvement of the prototypes before market launch.
• With the projects often using the component for new applications or in new sectors, markets that had not previously been considered or targeted by the manufacturers were made accessible to them.
The NEXPRESSO project was launched in Paris, France on 6 September 2010 and ended on the 28 February 2014. It followed the similar ACCORD FP6 programme. Most of the project work was undertaken by PhD or masters-level academics with senior supervision, providing the companies with highly qualified expertise. Approximately 57% of projects were in areas the companies had not targeted and 29% were in areas where they hadn’t considered the devices could be used.
The consortium partners (from left to right in the photo) were: HES-SO, EPIC, IMEC, Sagem, Opticsvalley, Multitel, SOA and Photonics Bretagne. Peter Van Daele from IMEC, Ghent University in Belgium was the NEXPRESSO project leader. The NEXPRESSO model has been documented for other organisations to implement; a detailed “copy kit” is available. EPIC has already confirmed that it will implement the model among its 150 members distributed over 24 countries.