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As the Netherlands is bullish on photonic chip tech, New Origin raises €6M for its foundry

New Origin funding

The Netherlands is betting big on next-generation photonic technology. PhotonDelta, a government-backed agency designed to develop a photonics ecosystem in the Netherlands, is in charge of the plan. The group aims to invest in 200 new businesses and help 26 existing businesses scale up.

In line with its ambition, PhotonDelta invested €6 million in New Origin, a photonic chips foundry. The capital will be used to create the Netherlands’ first independent photonic chips foundry that produces silicon nitride chips. The funding is part of the contribution made by the Province of Overijssel to PhotonDelta for its national photonics program.

PhotonDelta’s investment in New Origin is the latest step in the organisation’s goal to create a world-leading photonics industry in the Netherlands. Of the €1.1 billion it raised via public and private investment last year, PhotonDelta has invested in companies, including Scantinel Photonics, Smart Photonics, LioniX International, Quix Quantum and EFFECT Photonics. In total, PhotonDelta has, along with a consortium of investors, invested €335 million into photonics companies.

Professor Guus Rijnders, Scientific Director of MESA+, said: “We already have a strong cluster in the region, united in Chiptech Twente, which we can boost considerably this way. Many companies want to experiment with or integrate photonics into their products, however, this can be very difficult due to the cost and complexity of producing chips. Our foundry will significantly lower the bar to entry, facilitating more innovation and help the European photonics industry to grow.”

Ewit Roos, CEO of PhotonDelta, said: “New Origin’s foundry is going to play an important role in building Europe’s photonic chip industry. Not only will it help to meet existing demand for chips, it will also gather invaluable insights into how we can create large scale production facilities. This is a vital step in both making Europe less dependent on other regions for chip technology and unlocking the full potential of integrated photonics.”

Eddy van Hijum, Deputy Economy, Finance and Europe Minister at the Province of Overijssel, said: “We can be proud of the strong cluster of companies and knowledge institutions in our province that continue to invest together in the future of European chip technology. Examples include the earlier launch of the Chips Act and now this production facility. By continuing to develop, we as a province can mean a lot socially and economically with all these promising developments internationally, nationally and regionally.”

A University of Twente spinout

New Origin is a spin-out of the University of Twente’s MESA+ NanoLab. Its photonic chips foundry will enable companies to produce their own photonic chips. This overcomes a significant hurdle for the photonics industry by substantially reducing costs, while also increasing the availability of photonic chips.

New Origin believes the insights gained from the new foundry will open the door to the large-scale production facilities which will be needed to meet future demand.

Notably, a photonic chips foundry specialises in the design, fabrication, and production of photonic integrated circuits (PICs). These foundries utilize advanced manufacturing processes and equipment to create photonic circuits that are smaller, faster, and more efficient than traditional electronic circuits.

Why photonics?

Photonics uses light instead of electronics to transfer information which, when integrated into microchips, enables the creation of smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient devices. They have a range of applications such as within data communications, autonomous vehicles, food production, medical equipment, and aviation.

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