Infrared optical systems maker Sofradir (Veurey-Voroize, France) and its subsidiary ULIS are participating in the Nano 2022 initiative, in which Sofradir and ULIS will invest €150M ($171M) over the period 2018-2022.
Nano 2022 is France's initiative within the cross-border program that will support developments in nanotechnology, a market sector of strategic importance for the future, which includes applications such as smart sensors. The Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region, where Sofradir and ULIS have operations, announced it will contribute €35M ($40M) to support Nano 2022.
The Sofradir announcement follows the European Commission's approval on December 18, 2018 of a joint project by France, Germany, Italy, and the UK—called the Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI)—to give €1.75 billion (approx. $2 billion) in public support for research and innovation in microelectronics.
Sofradir and ULIS, whose IR technologies are used in a range of applications from space observation and environmental monitoring to security surveillance and predictive maintenance, will invest the €150M in Nano 2022 in order to develop next-generation IR detectors.
"Infrared technologies can offer the necessary solutions for improving assisted living, mobility, energy efficiency, security, and environmental monitoring, which are all crucial societal needs," says Jean-François Delepau, chairman and CEO of Sofradir and ULIS. "As a result of our investment, equipment manufacturers will benefit from the ease of use and performance these new products will offer."
Nano 2022 will enable ULIS to develop the next generations of IR detectors to address trends in autonomous systems for smart buildings (workspace management, energy savings), road safety, and in-cabin comfort of vehicles. It also enables Sofradir to develop the very large dimension IR detectors needed for space and astronomy observations, as well as compact and light sensors that can be used in portable devices and on drones. Nano 2022 contributes to the funding of the pilot lines required for developing these technologies and products.
Sofradir and ULIS participate in Nano 2022 alongside other companies based in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region, including silicon photonics developer STMicroelectronics and Soitec.
The IPCEI framework develops key cross-border R&D and infrastructure projects aimed at encouraging member states to channel their public spending into large projects and make a contribution to economic growth, job creation, and the competitiveness of Europe. The European Commission (DGComp) evaluates the funding conditions, ensuring they are in line with EU state aid rules.