One year after its presentation at the AER Spring Plenary held in Timișoara (RO), the ACTPHAST programme, which stands for Access Centre for Photonics Innovation Solutions and Technology, has proven to be an effective mechanism aimed at accelerating innovation for all European SMEs. Since the launch of this initiative funded by the European Commission, Prof. Thienpont and his team have been in charge of the development of a “one-stop-shop” photonics innovation hub delivering fast, flexible and scalable access to expertise and technology platforms in order to boost product innovation for the European Industry.
The ACTPHAST comprises today the state-of-the-art expertise and technologies of 23 of the top research institutes in photonics from across the different European networks (the ACTPHAST Partners), centrally coordinated by the Brussels Photonic Team (B-PHOT) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, with the perspective to reach out to an ever more extensive network of European companies.
Why does the ACTPHAST initiative matter for regions?
A vast number of companies across the region, particularly SMEs, often encounter several constraints in their innovation efforts given the high administrative burden when access to cutting-edge technologies as well as the lack of in-house expertise in photonics. This is why the ACTPHAST model comes in to provide a single entry point into a prototyping supply chain across a wide spectrum of photonics technology platforms ranging from fibre optics and micro-optics, to highly integrated photonic platforms. Its 100% subsidized format available to any SME (50% for large-scale companies) can bring a substantial impact on the companies’ business growth in terms of revenues and job creation.
What are the concrete outcomes so far?
In its first 3 years of programme evaluation, ACTPHAST has generated almost 17,000 website users and reached over 36,000 people across European Industry through the planning and execution of over 200 awareness-building campaigns (such as movies, trade shows, speaking engagements, …) of which 60% were undertaken in collaboration with regional cluster organizations. As a result, to date ACTPHAST has generated a total of 360 company leads from which a pipeline of high quality innovation project potentials has been created.
As for the economic impacts, the ACTPHAST supported companies expect to generate almost 300M€ in new revenues and 500 new EU jobs, as well as over 45M€ in new venture capital. This could meet or even exceed the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) targets, which assess the degree of compliance with the programme objectives. What is more, the ACTPHAST receives a very positive feedback from participating companies in terms of customer satisfaction levels: an average score of 4 out of 5 (very good or excellent), according to the ACTPHAST assessment criteria.
… and AER regions?
After the presentation at the 2016 Spring plenaries in Timis, several SMEs have contacted ACTPHAST to benefit from the opportunity to have access to photonics. AER encourages its members to disseminate information and raise awareness in their regions about the activities carried out by the ACTPHAST initiative, in order for their regional SMEs to be able to take advantage of the benefits of photonices innovation. This will directly enhance SMEs competitiveness in the regions.
For more information on how to take advantage of this unique opportunity, visit the ACTPHAST website