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Who can apply

ACTPHAST4.0 is an open access program for any European company to apply for support with their innovation project using photonics.  ACTPHAST 4.0 operates an open call for innovation project support requests from companies - simply click on the Register Your Interest button on this website to start the process.

ACTPHAST 4.0 is particularly geared towards supporting SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises, including start-up micro-enterprises of less than 10 employees), but will also support large-scale companies, especially those where photonics is not their core business and they may be innovating with photonics in their products for the first time.

Companies may be directly engaged in developing and producing photonics components or systems (i.e. photonics companies), or may develop and produce products which can incorporate photonics for enhanced functionality (i.e. photonics-enabled companies).

However in order to be approved for support, a company must first pass the eligibility criteria, and secondly must have their project proposal evaluated and scored by the ACTPHAST 4.0 Technical Coordination Team (TCT) at one of its bi-monthly meetings. Only projects which are deemed eligible will have their proposals evaluated by the TCT, and only project proposals which receive an evaluation score above the threshold may eventually be approved for support.

Eligibility criteria

All of the following criteria must be fulfilled in order to have a project proposal evaluated for ACTPHAST 4.0 support:

  • the company must have a European identity, i.e. a significant R&D and production presence within the EU.  Any European company may be supported, but European SMEs may receive a subsidy of 75%-100% of their innovation project (100% subsidy for the first 30K€ of project costs and 75% subsidy for costs above 30K€), whereas large-scale European companies receive a 50% subsidy – for SME classification rules, click here (

  • the Innovation Project Proposal submitted for evaluation must be complete, i.e. all of the required information is provided

  • the company and the proposed ACTPHAST 4.0 project partners must confirm their agreement with a shared understanding about the IPR issues (related to foreground and background know-how)

  • the company must confirm that its legal officers have an understanding about the conditions of the contract document should the Innovation Project be approved for support

  • the company must confirm its agreement with the final content of the Innovation Project Proposal to be submitted for evaluation by the TCT in accordance with the evaluation criteria

Evaluation criteria

An overview of the evaluation criteria used by the ACTPHAST 4.0 TCT is described below. Each criterion is scored with a value from 0 (underperformed) to 5 (excellent). Each criterion has a certain weight. The score is multiplied with this weight. The individual score of the criteria indicated with an “*” should be at least 2,5. The total score should be at least 70 points (70/100 ). If these thresholds cannot be reached, the project cannot be accepted as is (but may be re-submitted for fresh evaluation with certain modifications made to overcome identified deficiencies in the proposal).

The innovative character of the project (weight: 0,5)

  • Is the solution new in the market? *
  • Is the project creating valuable IP / knowhow? *
  • Can photonics be seen as a key enabling element in this project? *

The commitment by the company (weight: 1,5)

  • The allocated manpower
  • Trustability of commitment
  • The level of financial commitment

Quality of the project team & project plan (weight: 2,0)​

  • Does the presented technological approach make sense in light of the stated project goals? *
  • Are the proposed ACTPHAST 4.0 partners well positioned to carry out the developments? *
  • Are the timeline, choice of deliverables and milestones well chosen? *
  • Are the resources well justified? *

Fit with ACTPHAST 4.0 KPIs (weight 1,0)

  • Is the project initiating a new research collaboration for the company or a research collaboration with more than one partner?
  • Is the company a non-photonics company?

The credibility of the company / dynamic & entrepreneurial character (weight 2,0)

  • Has the company – or in the case of a start-up, its management team – a proven track record of bringing new products/solutions to the market? *
  • Has the company access to other management and innovation knowhow that would give confidence over the ability to execute? *
  • Has the company a proven track record of completing successfully public or public-private funded projects (e.g. FP-7, national programs, etc.)? *

The added value on the business level of the company (weight: 1,0)

  • The Target Market (who are the target customers/segments; the purchasing decision-makers, etc.)? *
  • The Market Validation (experience & relationships of the company with these customers; is the target market an existing or new one)? *
  • The Route to Market (what channels will the company use to sell and deliver its products to its target
  • customers?) *
  • The Value Proposition (the competitive positioning and unique competitive advantage) *
  • The Financial Aspects of the business plan (how will the company make the product at a competitive price to make acceptable profits? how will it finance getting product to market, and scaling its growth? what resources, activities and partners are necessary and when?) *