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21-23 April 2021


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The term “nano” originates from “nanos”, the Greek word for “dwarf”. 1 nanometre is miniscule and cannot be seen with the naked eye. It has the inconceivable size of one billionth of a metre. A comparison: 1 nanometre is around 50,000 times smaller than the diameter of a thin human hair.

Microsystems technology

Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) or micro-opto-electro-mechanical systems (MOEMS) combine such varied base technologies as mechanics, optics, fluidics, polymer electronics and new materials.

Advanced Materials

Materials form the basis for almost all technical innovations and are fundamentally crucial to the technological progress of our society. Today, high temperature-resistant ceramics, lightweight fibre composite products or special aluminium wrought alloys, for instance, have taken the place of materials like stone, wood or bronze.


Optical technologies are regarded as belonging to the key technologies of the 21st century and are an important lever for many segments, from the electronics industry and machine engineering through to medicine. Compared with the national average, North Rhine-Westphalia is home to a disproportionately high number of companies and research institutions in the field of optical technologies.

Latest Projects

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Applying lightweight solutions is the most efficient approach to make transport greener (Lucintel’18; McK’12). However, SME suppliers of auto and aero parts in NWE encounter severe challenges to define optimal lightweighting: auto struggles to integrate the most advanced materials; aero, to reach acceptable costs and production speeds. Each sector uniquely excels in specific areas: e.g. auto leads automated mass manufacturing and aero, materials performance. To effectively adopt feasible lightweight solutions, more affordable and environmentally-friendly innovations must be co-developed across the value chain: market-pull from demand side will stimulate a competitiveness increase of supplier SMEs, while contributing to reduce overall CO2 transport emissions.


Einstein Telescope EMR Site & Technology

The Einstein Telescope will open a new window on the Universe through the observation of gravitational waves. Its infrastructure will be buried 300 meter below the surface to reduce human-, wind- and ground-induced vibrations and movements. The Interreg project E-TEST is a very important step of the Einstein Telescope, as it will be a proof of concept, both on the prototype side and on the geological side.

E-TEST will build a prototype – a large suspended mirror at cryogenic temperature (10Kelvin) – to validate the telescope’s technology. It will also run an underground study to map and model the geology of the Euregio Meuse-Rhine. This will allow to define the optimal design and location of the future Einstein Telescope. The project is a major scientific breakthrough but will also have a significant economic impact on the SME of the EMR.

The E-TEST project is carried out under the Interreg V-A Euregio Meuse-Rhine Programme, with €7.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia contributes to 30% of the funding of the North Rhine-Westphalian partners in this project. By investing EU funds in Interreg projects, the European Union invests directly in economic development, innovation, territorial development, social inclusion and education in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine.


Open-Innovation Photonics pilot for NWE

The Interreg NWE-Project “OIP4NWE” aims at establishing an open access pilot line for the development, processing and testing of “Protonic integrates Circuits” (PICs). Integrated photonics is the emerging technology where the manipulation of light takes place on a chip, making the components an order of magnitude cheaper, smaller and more energy-efficient compared to today’s solutions. By providing these services to SMEs across Europe, the project reduces barriers and strengthens the competitiveness and innovativeness of European SME sustainably on the global markets.

Open-access facilities are of a laboratory nature (TRL4) and inadequate for manufacturing PICs with cost-efficiency, speed and reliable quality (TRL7). The equipment for PIC manufacturing is of an innovative, specialised nature that cannot be obtained from a single country. As application grows, NWE needs to stay ahead. Therefore, intense collaboration between innovation stakeholders at transnational level is an important goal of the project.

The Project is funded by the Interreg North-West Europe Programme, which fosters transnational cooperation to make North-West Europe a key economic player and an attractive place to work and live, with high levels of innovation, sustainability and cohesion.


Space TEchnology with Photonics for market and societal challenges

Space technology and photonics are among the most important industrial competences in Europe. The combination of both technologies opens up entirely new possibilities for tackling a multitude of today’s societal challenges such as in the area of health, climate protection and safety.

In order to better exploit the potential of photonics-based space technology, the existing public funding instruments must be optimized so that space technology projects are used more specifically for civilian applications on Earth. Investing in research and development of marketable products and services must address the major societal issues while exploiting the potential offered by space technology (for example by providing large amounts of data). The STEPHANIE project develops policy recommendations for action geared to regional needs and the development of regional support programs and value chains.

Please take note the of the STEPHANIE-eBulletins as well

ROCKET Reloaded

RegiOnal Collaboration on Key Enabling Technologies

The ROCKET project promotes cooperation between business and science in the German-Dutch border region between North Sea and Lower Rhine to strengthen research, technological development and innovation.

Key Enabling Technologies (KET, such as nanotechnology, microsystem technology, micro- and nanoelectronics, advanced materials as well as photonics) form the technological basis for the answers to the global challenges.

This project is financially supported by the European Union and INTERREG partners within the INTERREG program.


Delivering Nanotechnologies, advanced Materials and Production to REGional manufacturing

Nanotechnology, New Materials and Production Technology (NMP) are key technologies of the 21st century and form a cornerstone of EU research and innovation policy. NMPs have the potential to generate high-quality products with improved or new material and surface properties, reduce production costs and thus create long-term growth, employment and competitiveness in the European regions.

However, it is necessary to accelerate the transfer of new technologies and materials to industrial production. This is precisely where the NMP-REG project is based, by analyzing the existing framework conditions for NMP transfer from research to the economy, designing optimization options to increase efficiency and transferring them into regional action plans.