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Future technologies

Evaluation of the “Photonics Research Germany” programme

Client

Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Year

2021


Photonics, the technical use of light, is considered a key enabling technology that offers solutions for a wide range of applications. These range from lighting, material processing, energy generation, optics, image acquisition, and sensor technology, to microelectronics, data processing, and medical technology. The “Photonics Research Germany” funding programme supports research in this area, promotes networking, and aims to increase the overall visibility of the industry. Prognos conducted an evaluation of this programme, in place since 2012, on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Figures on the funding programme

The “Photonics Research Germany” programme is intended to strengthen the competitiveness of the German photonics sector in research, development, and production. At the end of February 2020, the total funding volume amounted to 689.2 million euros, approved between 2021 and 2020. A total of 1,488 projects received funding. Of these, 352 projects were carried out by large enterprises, 540 by small and medium-sized enterprises, 304 by universities, and 277 by non-university research institutions.

Results of the evaluation

The international competitiveness of German photonics companies and the research performance of non-university research institutions and universities were strengthened by the funding. At the time of the survey, 23.9 percent of companies confirmed this effect and more than half of the companies expected this to be the case in the next three years (50.7 percent).

Thanks to the funding, more than half of the companies and 65 percent of the scientific institutions funded have established contact with new industrial partners. The programme also significantly strengthened the R&D activities of the funded companies.

Thanks to the funding programme, it has been possible to develop an innovation ecosystem that enables specialisation, opens up new opportunities for cooperation, and offers industrial companies the opportunity to tap new fields of research. Prognos thus recommends the continuation of the programme. The main instruments should be retained – joint funding, community building, as well as agenda setting. Greater consideration should be given to open research infrastructures, novel types of projects, and connecting with other networks.

A mix of methods

Prognos evaluated the achievement of objectives, the effectiveness, and also the profitability of the BMBF funding programme. For this purpose, a mix of methods was used. Extensive control group analyses were used to identify the causal contribution of the funding to the economic and innovation policy objectives of the programme. In addition, activities included: a full survey of all funded projects, a survey of unconsidered sketch submitters, discussions with experts, case studies, an internationally comparative analysis of the patent portfolio, a publication analysis, and a discussion exchange in a consulting group of experts.


Summary evaluation (PDF, in German)
Further information (website www.photonikforschung.de, in German)

Project team: Dr Thomas Stehnken, Michael Astor, Michael Neumann, Jonathan-Aton Talamo

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Dr Thomas Stehnken

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Michael Astor

Partner, Director

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