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New Origin secures €6 million to build independent photonic chips foundry

New Origin, a photonic chips foundry, has secured €6 million in funding from PhotonDelta - a cross-border ecosystem of photonic chip technology organisations. The capital will be used to create the Netherlands’ first independent photonic chips foundry that produces silicon nitride chips. The funding is part of the contribution of the Province of Overijssel to PhotonDelta for a national photonics programme.

New Origin’s foundry will enable companies to produce their own photonic chips. This overcomes a significant hurdle for the photonics industry by substantially reducing costs, while also increasing the availability of photonic chips. Photonic chips use light instead of electronics to transmit information, which, when integrated into microchips, enables, among other things, the development of fibre communication between modules. It is also used in LiDAR, a photonics-based measurement technology widely used in the automotive industry, and in medical sensors. They have a range of applications such as within data communications, medical equipment and aviation.

Creating a world-leading photonics industry in the Netherlands

PhotonDelta’s investment in New Origin, which has spun out of the University of Twente’s MESA+ NanoLab, is the latest step in the organisation’s goal to create a world-leading photonics industry in the Netherlands. Last year, PhotonDelta secured €1.1 billion in public and private investment to scale up production, build 200 startups, create new applications for photonic chips and develop infrastructure and talent. So far, PhotonDelta has invested in companies including Scantinel Photonics, Smart Photonics, LioniX International, Quix Quantum and EFFECT Photonics. PhotonDelta has, along with a consortium of investors, invested €335 million into photonics companies in total.

Ewit Roos, CEO of PhotonDelta, said: “New Origin’s foundry is going to play an important role in building Europe’s photonic chip industry. Not only will it help to meet the existing demand for chips, but it will also gather invaluable insights into how we can create large-scale production facilities. This is a vital step in both making Europe less dependent on other regions for chip technology and unlocking the full potential of integrated photonics.”

Boost the regional cluster

Professor Guus Rijnders, Scientific Director of MESA+, said: “We already have a strong cluster in the region, united in ChipTech Twente, which we can boost considerably this way. Many companies want to experiment with or integrate photonics into their products, however, this can be very difficult due to the cost and complexity of producing chips. Our foundry will significantly lower the bar to entry, facilitating more innovation and helping the European photonics industry to grow.”

Eddy van Hijum, Deputy Economy, Finance and Europe Minister at the Province of Overijssel, said: "We can be proud of the strong cluster of companies and knowledge institutions in our province. Together they continue to invest in the future of European chip technology. A good example, like the earlier launch of the Chips Act, is this production facility. By continuing to develop, we as a province can mean a lot socially and economically at an international, national and regional level for now and in the future."

ChipTech Twente

ChipTech Twente was founded in 2022 by a consortium of Twente partners. The major chip shortages worldwide, the geopolitical uncertainty surrounding Taiwan's largest chip producer and the call for technically skilled talent are also being felt in Twente. Professor Bram Nauta's Integrated Circuit Design department at the University of Twente and Saxion's Electrical Engineering course have produced a strong SME cluster of chip design companies over the past 25 years.

But also wider in the value chain, Twente's unique position in global chip production is noticeable, including testing, equipment suppliers and system integration. It provides the region with many jobs, especially in combination with new technologies such as photonics, quantum and microfluidics.

Besides strengthening its own regional position, it is also working with regions such as Brainport, Nijmegen and Delft to move together towards Europe.

Recently, the initiative received support from the Twente Board.

About New Origin
New Origin is a 100 per cent subsidiary of the University of Twente Holding. This holding company houses the university's private activities, which, among other things, contribute to the valorisation of scientific research.

About PhotonDelta
PhotonDelta is an ecosystem of organisations that researches, designs, develops, and manufactures solutions with photonic chip technology. PhotonDelta helps to take the industry forward by stimulating collaboration, providing funding and connecting them to markets. PhotonDelta is located in the Netherlands but connects and collaborates worldwide. 

L.P.W. van der Velde MSc (Laurens)
Spokesperson Executive Board (EB)