Communications Networks, Content and Technology

Photonics and Solid State Lighting

Photonics and Solid State Lighting

Photonics (Unit A.1)

Building on Europe's strengths, the goal is to secure EU industrial leadership, especially in those market sectors where the European photonics industry is particularly strong and to exploit new emerging market opportunities.  We aim to promote it widely as a highly promising science and technology field for the 21st century and to ensure large scale deployment of the technology. 


Implement the relevant FP7 and Horizon 2020 (H2020) calls for proposals in photonics and managing the unit's portfolio of on-going and newly selected research and innovation (R&I) projects.Integrate into the Commission's Green Paper "Lighting the Future" (in short, SSL Green Paper) [1] the results from the public consultation[2] and implementing a "European approach" for large scale deployment of Solid State Lighting (i.e., LED and Organic LED) technologies. [1] COM(2011)889 of 15.12.2011 [2] The results of the public consultation are available at:


Photonics, from lasers to fibre optics and lighting devices, is one of the Key Enabling Technologies for Europe. It underpins growth and jobs in a large part of the economy and has a major impact on addressing societal challenges from sustainable health systems to energy efficiency. The world market for photonics is more than € 250 billion per year and grows at an average of more than 5 % per year. Europe's share of world production of photonics is around 18% today.Europe's strengths in photonics is notably in communications, lighting, medical photonics, laser-based manufacturing and safety & security applications. With the emergence of new players in telecom equipment mainly from Asia and in consumer related products (e.g. displays), a number of traditionally strong European sectors are highly challenged despite the presence of excellent research and knowledge teams in Europe. While new areas emerge in this field on regular basis, e.g. Organic photonics, where Europe has clear strengths, the capacity to create the best environment for businesses growth and investment remains also a main challenge in many Member States. Europe has the capacity to increase its 18% share of global markets in photonics to align with its weight in the global economy. Some of the main difficulties to address include:

  • There is a fragmented and rather uncoordinated development strategy along the value chain and among the regional and national players;
  • The existing fierce global competition requires major further science and technology (S&T) progress and research and innovation (R&I) investment for sustaining Europe's industrial competitiveness and leadership in market sectors where Europe is strong.

For solid state lighting (SSL), the problem definition and the situation we have decided to change were described in the SSL Green Paper and confirmed in the subsequent public consultation. In summary, there are two types of barriers for addressing the persisting hesitancy in the wider market uptake of SSL technologies in Europe:

  1. Barriers related to the SSL market uptake by consumers and professional users: poor quality of some SSL products; lack of information for the citizens in their move from incandescent solutions to SSL; high initial purchase cost of SSL; and, some health concerns
  2. Barriers related to the further development of the European SSL industry: lack of coherent standards; lack of sufficient market surveillance; low public investments in innovative (SSL) lighting solutions (public procurement); and, improving cooperation along the value chain and between the lighting industry and professional users.
• The Framework Programme for Research and Innovation H2020 (Regulation (EU) No 1291/2013) identifies Photonics as a topic in the area "ICT" of the pillar "Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies" of Horizon 2020. • The Commission in its Communication "Preparing for our future: Developing a common strategy for key enabling technologies in the EU" COM(2009)512 has identified Photonics as one of the Key Enabling Technologies that strengthen the EU’s industrial and innovation capacity to address the societal challenges ahead and proposes a set of measures to improve the related framework conditions. As such, it forms part of the development of EU industrial policy and of the European plan for innovation. • The mandate for specific action in Solid State Lighting stem from the Commission's Green Paper "Lighting the Future" (in short, SSL Green Paper) (COM(2011)889 of 15.12.2011).


Full-Time Equivalent: 
12.00 full-time equivalent (FTE)
Collaboration with other DGs or agencies:
In 2014-2015 under Horizon 2020 we envisage spending of the order of 140M€; and about 700M€ to 850M€ for H2020 in total. The Solid State Lighting activity is a policy activity without specific budget allocated to it but some funds will be used from H2020.

Interactions with Photonics 21 stakeholders and participation in conferences and other events; etc.Cooperation with CEN/CENELEC (for SSL standardisation).Dedicated meetings with the European lighting industry and lighting end-users and participation at (professional) lighting events. The activities and results of the two CIP lighting pilots (LED4ART and ILLUMINATE)[1] and the FP7 pre-commercial procurement action ENIGMA and the coordination action SSL-erate[2]. [1] [2] ENIGMA and SSL-erate were selected in the last two Calls of FP7 ICT and are expected to start their activities in autumn 2013


Creating SSL awareness

Help create awareness about SSL to professional end-users (e.g. municipalities) via dedicated dissemination actions organised by or in cooperation with the CIP SSL pilot actions and the FP7 ICT action SSL-erate. Notably, this concerns the qualification of economic benefits of SSL and social acceptance issues through benchmarked data which will be collected from the CIP SSL actions.



Awareness and information actions addressing players beyond the lighting industry.

Target The organisation of one or two EU-wide actions addressing players beyond those of the lighting industry (2014 - 2015)
Baseline None

High quality R&I projects

High quality projects in photonics launched from the calls for proposals addressing:

  • The development of new photonics technologies, processes and products
  • New integrating activities across the value chain that help bridge the "valley of death"



New R&I capabilities

Target At least 1-2 open access pilot manufacturing lines established (2016)
Baseline None

from H2020 R&I projects

Project Success Stories

Target At least three major technology breakthroughs per year from running projects (in terms of functionality or performance, e.g.: achieving world record performance in optical data transmission, sensitivity / speed of detection of diseases, etc.) (2014-2015) (2014 - 2015)
Baseline None

Joint publications

Target Number and share of joint public-private publications out of all publications

via sygma?

Addressing innovation along the SSL value chain

Contribution to an improved cooperation and innovation of lighting actors along and beyond the SSL value chain, notably via the FP7 action SSL-erate and through new activities to be launched under Horizon 2020.



New players in the SSL value chain

Target Double the participation of new players in H2020 projects (2014-2017)
Baseline Participation in ICT FP7 project consortia

Awareness raising in photonics

Contribution to awareness raising of the photonics industrial and academic stakeholders for our programmes and to an enhanced cooperation in a broadened stakeholder community.



Coverage of the Horizon 2020 work programme

Target At least 50% of industrial participation in H2020 calls, with 20% SMEs (2014 to 2015) (2014 to 20151)
Baseline Industrial participation in the last FP7 calls : 33% industry, with 15% SMEs

Defining the R&I priorities of the Photonics PPP for the period 2016-2017

Preparing the R&I priorities of the photonics PPP for 2016-17 together with the Photonics21 Stakeholders and other relevant communities. This comprises extensive interactions within Photonics21 as well as with other communities and includes the organisation of a number of workshops and other events. The identified priorities will serve as inputs to the drafting of the Horizon 2020 work programme 2016-17.



Coverage of the photonics multi-annual strategic R&I roadmap and of the Horizon 2020 budgetary constraints for cross-cutting KETs

Target An agreed list of R&I priorities comprising both core photonics topics and cross-cutting KET initiatives (December 2014)
Baseline The multi-annual strategic R&I roadmap for 2014-2020

Influencing investments in photonics R&I activities

Influencing the commitments of the stakeholders, including industrial investments in R&I activities (in Europe), in a highly skilled workforce and in attracting and educating new people in the field.



New jobs in photonics

Target By 2020 increase by at least 20% new jobs in photonics (2020)
Baseline In 2012, there were more than 300 000 direct jobs.

Photonics investments in R&I

Target Overall commitment of the photonics industry to invest in R&I at least equal to the amount the EU will use to finance the photonics PPP in the 7 years of H2020 (2020)
Baseline None

Influencing the competitive position of the European lighting industry



Market share of the EU lighting industry

Target Europe maintaining at least 20% of the lighting world market (2020)
Baseline In 2012, Europe held 23% of the lighting world market (18/78 B€)

Improving the capabilities and innovation potential of the photonics companies

Improving the technological and manufacturing capabilities and the innovation potential of the photonics companies that are a direct result of our projects, with special emphasis on the innovation and competitive potential of SMEs (both technology providers and end-users).



Firms introducing innovations new to the company or the market

Target Share of participating firms introducing innovations new to the company or the market (covering the period of the project plus three years) (2015)

via the innovation questionnaire?

New photonics-enabled products and processes, notably by SMEs

Target At least 30 new products/processes generated by SMEs through the open access infrastructures and services that will be created under H2020 pilot production lines and SME-supporting facilities. (2020)
Baseline None

from R&I actions

Patent applications

Target At least 3 patent applications per 10M€ funding (2014 - 2015)
Baseline The average number of patents per 10 M€ spent on R&D worldwide

DG CONNECT research dashboard (via Sygma and other sources)

Chart URL See the chart

Influencing SSL deployment in EU cities

Influencing the large deployment of intelligent lighting systems in EU cities.



EU cities deploying SSL

Target By 2020, at least half of the European capital cities have deployed SSL-based lighting systems (2020)
Baseline None

Influencing SSL penetration in Europe

Influencing the wide penetration of SSL in Europe and contributing to an energy-efficient Europe.



Share of annual sales of SSL in Europe

Target The DAE Target defined in COM(2010) 245 of 19 May 2010: "Promotion of low energy lighting: By 2020 at least 20% overall reduction in energy use on lighting (No baseline)". This will be notably measured through the share of annual sales of SSL in Europe. (2020)
Baseline None

Influencing the "valley of death" towards a wide diffusion of photonics technologies

Influencing the "valley of death", i.e. the transition from advanced research prototypes to marketable products, by accelerating:

  • the wide diffusion of photonics technologies in many industry sectors and the emergence of new business ecosystems;
  • the contribution in solutions for societal challenges facing Europe (e.g. in healthcare and well-being, in energy- and resource-efficient solutions and in a more safe society).



New photonics solutions for societal challenges

Target New solutions brought to the marketplace addressing societal challenges such as health, energy efficiency or security and safety. (2020)
Baseline None

New photonics capabilities

Target New business created through access to pilot manufacturing lines and creation of new photonics production facilities in Europe. (2020)
Baseline None

Influencing the revenue growth of the photonics industry

Influencing the revenue growth of the photonics industry and the emergence of new business ecosystems and strong alliances along and across the value chain. These increase the innovation capacity of the European photonics industries and influence the European market share of the global photonics production.



European market share (lead indicator)

Target Europe supplying at least 18% of market share of photonics by 2020 (2020)
Baseline Europe's 2011 position was at 18% of total photonics production (~66/350 B€) (2013)

From the Photonics PPP (through a study commissioned by the PPP).The baseline figure comes from the: ‘Photonik – Branchenreport 2013’, May 2013 issued by SPECTARIS, VDMA, ZVEI, BMBF. It can be found on the Photonics21 website: frequency: in 2015 for market figures of 2013, in 2017 for market figures of 2015, in 2019 for market figures of 2017, in 2021 for the market figures of 2019 and in 2022 for the market figures of 2020.

Link to DG CONNECT's Top Level Targets

  • Europe 2020 - 3% of the EU's GDP should be invested in R&D, complemented by a future EU 2020 Headline Innovation Indicator
  • Europe 2020 - Greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced by 20% compared to 1990. The share of renewable energy sources in final energy consumption should be increased to 20%. Energy efficiency should improve by 20%
  • H2020 - By 2020, one third of all Europe's ICT business investment in ICT R&D in the EU should come from companies created within the last two decades
  • DAE - To reduce energy use of lighting by 20% by 2020
  • Create growth and new jobs, improve skills and education
  • Indirect links to top level EU targets related to Smart Cities, Energy Efficiency and Climate Change