Successful business mission to the United States of America for the PIMAP Partnership and its SMEs

Submitted by Audrey Durand on 27 May 2019

The PIMAP Partnership organised over February 4-7, 2019 a business mission to San Francisco with the participation of all project partners: ALPHA-RLH (France), Business Joensuu (Finland), Triple Steelix (Sweden) and Produtech (Portugal). The programme was held in conjunction with the Photonics West tradeshow, a major event on photonics, lasers and optics gathering stakeholders from all around the globe.

The first day of the programme was dedicated to the discovery of the American innovation ecosystem in the Silicon Valley. The programme was built in close cooperation with the French Tech Hub based in San Francisco in order to maximise opportunities for SMEs.

On Day 1, in the morning, the four cluster managers of ALPHA-RLH took the road to the Silicon Valley and went to Carbon, an innovative company based in Redwood City. Carbon works at the intersection of hardware, software, and molecular science. It manufactures and develops 3D printers utilizing the Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) process. Carbon is a very successful company combining expertise from different sectors (advanced manufacturing, new materials and technologies) to create a new product today used by major companies such as Adidas. This visit was really inspiring for the PIMAP partners and provided a concrete insight on the benefits of cross-sectoral cooperation.

In the afternoon, the PIMAP partners gathered at the French Tech Hub to have a consortium meeting. This meeting allowed the partners to reflect on the actions implemented so far in the context of the PIMAP Partnership as well as the upcoming activities: workshop with SMEs in Sweden, business mission to Canada. The perspectives to deepen and enlarge the partnership to other sectors was also studied to reach more applicative markets.

In the evening, a reception was held at the French Tech Hub on Photonics: trends and applications in the Industry 4.0. Over 60 participants, including business angels, VCs, analysts, M&A specialists, and big company scouts gathered at this Industry 4.0 event. A keynote speech was delivered by Joe Delfino, Founder & Director of Salescycle LLC on trends in photonics, with a focus on the latest technological development and opportunities to seize in the industry 4.0.

The PIMAP Partnership was prominently presented to the audience, with a presentation of the project and its cluster partners. In particular, the ambition and objectives of the PIMAP Partnership on the American market have been emphasised: 1) Identification of potential partners in the USA, 2) Organisation of business mission with SMEs, 3) Establishment of cooperation agreements with North American clusters.

Five SMEs operating in photonics had the chance to pitch and present their products and technologies to the audience. Three companies from the consortium made inspiring presentations on the latest innovations they developed: Femto Easy, Brighterwave Inc. and Muquans. Two American companies also pitched: Max-IR Labs and LyteLoop. The interactions with the audience highlighted a high interest for the potential of photonics technologies for the development of new products and services and fostered some connections.

All participants to the event gathered after the presentations to share a cocktail together and network before the start of the Photonics West tradeshow on June 5th.

All cluster partners went to Photonics West in order to initiate cooperation activities with potential partners and took part to the exhibition on June 5th and 6th.  As both the ALPHA-RLH cluster and Business Joensuu had a booth on the fair, the project partners also had the chance to meet companies from the two cluster ecosystems.

On Day 2 in the morning, the project partners had the opportunity to meet with six companies and one technology centre from the ALPHA-RLH cluster: Aurea Technology, ALPhANOV, First Light, Femto Easy, Irisiome and Spark Lasers. The partners discovered the latest products and technologies developed by the companies of the ALPHA-RLH cluster. They also took advantage of their presence to the Photonics West tradeshow to present the PIMAP Partnership and enquire about the needs of their companies with regards to internationalisation and product development.

In the afternoon, all project partners had a fruitful meeting with the Executive Director of New York Photonics, Thomas Battley. The exchange allowed to highlight the complementary between the cluster located in New York / Rochester area and the PIMAP initiative. The possibility to engage further with New York Photonics will be studied by the project partners, through an exchange of information on where the cooperation potential would be the highest.

Following the discussions with New York Photonics, all project partners gathered to meet with Optonique, a cluster from the Quebec region. The partners exchanged with Marie-Christine Ferland on the opportunity to cooperate on knowledge exchange and market exploration between companies from the PIMAP Partnership and the Optonique ecosystem. The outcome of the exchanges was very positive and the project partners are quite confident in signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Optonique this year to formalise their cooperation.

On Day 3 in the morning, the project partners attended to a session on the Industry 4.0 and 3D-Printing at the Photonics West tradeshow. The presentation highlighted the latest evolutions in connectivity, computing, robotics, automation, and materials development. It also included keynotes from industry leaders on how they are addressing the challenges linked to the rise of the industry 4.0.

After this morning session, all the project partners gathered to get to know the companies of Business Joensuu on the finnish pavilion. They all had the chance to meet with twelve companies, namely: Brighterwave, Optalek, VTT, Ampliconyx, Displelix, Nanocomp, Spectral Engines, Kimmy Photonics, Ladimo, INKRON, EMBERION and SENOP. The PIMAP Partnership discovered all their latest products and discussed possible business cooperations and opportunities to try the products.

On the last day of the PIMAP business mission, the project partners went to The Vault, a company supporting the access to the American market through mentoring, coaching and acceleration programmes. This visit was very relevant and useful for the project partners, who are seeking to facilitate the access to the American market in a long-term perspective through the development of long-term partnership. 

In the afternoon, the project partners went to the Photonics West Tradeshow and met with Jack Schumann from Arizona Optics Valley. Together, they discussed the opportunities to initiate cooperation between the PIMAP Partnership and the Arizona Optics Valley and explored the possibility of signing of Memorandum of Understanding within the year.

The PIMAP Partnership business mission to USA (Photonics West, San Francisco) was very successful and allowed the consortium to meet with many north-American companies (SMEs in peculiar) and initiate potential cooperation activities with several cluster managers from both the USA and Canada. The PIMAP Partnership will stay in touch with the different clusters encountered at the Photonics West and will seek to formalise the cooperation with the most promising contacts in order to create new opportunities for the SMEs of the Partnership.

Share this Article