In a rare move, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK) is investing 20 million euros to prevent integrated-photonics foundry Smart Photonics from falling into foreign hands. According to EZK state secretary Mona Keijzer, the Eindhoven-based company is of systemic importance to the budding Dutch photonics ecosystem. “It’s realistic to assume that without Smart Photonics’ local manufacturing capabilities, integrated photonics activity would disappear from the Netherlands,” she writes to the House of Representatives (link in Dutch).
Apart from recent corona support measures, it’s unusual for the Dutch government to invest directly in private companies. The Netherlands and other EU countries, however, increasingly acknowledge the strategic importance of the technological industry. The European Commission recently advised member states to intervene in the market whenever strategic technology is at stake. Photonics is designated as a key enabling technology.
The 20 million euro loan from EZK is part of a capital injection totaling 35 million euros. The remaining 15 million euros is provided by KPN Ventures, Photondelta and existing shareholders. “We’re very excited to be able to bring our foundry to the next level thanks to this investment. This will allow us to scale up our volumes as we support our customers in bringing their first commercial products using photonic integration technology to the market,” comments Smart Photonics CEO Johan Feenstra.