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Who can apply

ACTPHAST is established as an open access program for any European company to apply for support with a photonics innovation project. Companies may be large-scale, medium-sized, small or even micro-enterprises. 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 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 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 100% subsidy of their project, whereas large-scale European companies receive a 50% subsidy – for SME classification rules, click here (

  • 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

  • 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 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

Evaluation criteria

An overview of the different evaluation criteria and the scoring system is provided below. Each criterion is scored with a value from 0 (very poor) to 10 (excellent). Each criterion has a certain weight. The score is multiplied by this weighting factor. If for example the weight is 1.5, then the maximum achievable under this criterion is 15 points in total (i.e. a maximum score of 10 multiplied by the weighting factor of 1.5). The individual score for each criterion must be higher than 5 out of 10, except for criterion 5. The overall total must be at least 70 points (70/100). If these thresholds cannot be reached, the project cannot be accepted.

  1. The innovative character of the project (weight: 1,5)

    • Does the solution already exist on the market?

    • Can photonics be seen as a key enabling element in this project?

    • Is the project creating valuable IP?

  2. Market readiness (weight: 1,5)

    • Will the project deliverable or the end product have an advanced TRL stage?

  3. The added value on the business level of the company (weight: 2,5)

    • The target market

    • The market validation

    • The route to market

    • The competitive positioning and unique competitive advantage

    • The financial business plan

  4. The credibility of the company / dynamic & entrepreneurial character (weight: 1,5) for example:

    • 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?

    • Has the company a proven track record of completing successfully public or public-private funded projects (e.g. FP-7, national programs, ACTPHAST, etc.)?

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

    • The commitment of person-month resources of the company

    • The level of financial commitment of the company (a cash contribution is not required in the case of a SME where ACTPHAST can provide a 100% subsidy to the project, but indirect costs and consumables may be taken into account as well as person-months in determining the in-kind contribution of the company to the project; in the case of a large-scale company, the ACTPHAST subsidy is 50% with the company providing the cash contribution for the other 50% as well as an in-kind contribution in terms of person-months and consumables)

  6. Quality of the project team & project plan (weight: 1,5)

    • Are the proposed ACTPHAST partners well positioned to carry out the developments?  

    • Is the timeline, choice of deliverables and milestones ok?