This project is funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the EC This project is funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the EC
The EuroPIC project is coordinated by COBRA The EuroPIC project is coordinated by COBRA
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Open Access Business Model

Following the example of CMOS, EuroPIC sets out to establish a process chain which is completely new in its sector. ‘Open-access’ in this context refers to the generic InP chip fab process which is openly accessible to all designers.

The key change over the present status quo is to clearly separate out the different functions within the process chain. For example software based design tools embodying data about fab processes and its tolerances can be used to de-skill the design process from the point of view of designers who presently need a deep understanding of the InP fab. Equally the fab need no longer have a detailed knowledge of the circuits being designed because its design rules are sublimated into the same toolset. The fab can become ‘application blind’.

It seeks also to replace the present diversity of InP based processes with a small number of highly characterised and standardised generic processes.

By these means applications based companies will in the future gain access to the generic process either through their own design expertise or that of specialist design houses (which do not exist at the moment). It also means that they can easily retain their own IP whilst the fabs IP rests in the generic process itself.


The Importance of SMEs

SMEs as a group dominate European industry. Most are very small < 10 employees.

European SMEs must also play a key role in the EuroPIC development, as they are the driving factor for economic growth and innovation.

The cost of entry into the photonics field is high due to capital investments in equipment and cleanrooms, process development and operational cost of such a setup. EuroPIC is about to change the way research institutes, SMEs and the industry work together in the field of photonic micro-systems based on Indium Phosphide (InP) fabrication technologies. A completely new business model will be developed and introduced, resulting in the availability for European companies and institutes of the required production methods and tools. This will also bring significant benefits to the new Eastern European member states where little or no investment in photonic fabrication infrastructure has taken place, by allowing new SMEs from these countries to compete in developing novel or improved photonic applications.

The concept of the project is simple: use the innovation capability of photonics SMEs by enabling access to a shared production facility, in which the technological boundaries are pushed forward by joint research in combination with Europe's leading research groups.


Founding Sources

At the moment there is no other related EU funding although we have high hopes of ICT Call5. A Dutch national programme Smartmix-Memphis provides some support to some of the consortium partners in related areas.


The European perspective

The generic foundry approach has attracted international attention; for example, that of Dr. Michael Lebby, president of the American Optoelectronics Industry Development Association ( At a workshop/forum of its Japanese sister organization OITDA in February 2009, Lebby concluded that Europe is leading the US in both III-V and silicon [photonics] foundries.

As a result of the pioneering work within the ePIXnet NoE Europe has a lead in the elaboration of the new paradigm. In Asia we see no signs yet of a similar approach. Europe is, therefore, in a unique position to take the lead in the field of advanced PICs and their application, but time is pressing.