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Tyndall seeks applicants for Deep Tech start up programme

Posted on: 09 Dec 2020

Tyndall seeks applicants for Deep Tech start up programme

Individuals or teams with scalable ideas are invited to apply to a new Tyndall Explorer pre-accelerator programme with €20,000 prize fund and access to Europe’s semiconductor leaders.

“The aim is to stimulate high-value tech ventures in Ireland.
 €7.7 billion was invested in deep-techs in Europe in 2019 alone”

A new pre-accelerator programme for deep-tech start-ups has been launched by the Irish Photonics Integrated Centre (IPIC) at Tyndall National Institute (Tyndall), UCC, in partnership with the IPCEI European cluster collaboration, and international high-tech photonics companies OSRAM Opto Semiconductors (OSRAM) and IQE.  

Launch of Explorer

Tyndall Explorer aims to help emerging entrepreneurial ideas and early-stage start-ups in the area of photonics and microelectronics – covering technology areas such as energy efficient chips, power semi-conductors, smart sensors, advanced optical equipment, and compound materials and applications. Tyndall is most interested in ideas that will address the global societal and environmental challenges that we face today – solutions for health and wellbeing, a greener sustainable society, smart agriculture and transport. Deep-tech has the potential to address these challenges through smart medical devices, rural broadband, autonomous vehicles and efficient light sources and displays.

The idea behind Explorer is to stimulate the formation of high value deep-tech ventures, which will in turn support the growth of the Irish economy and jobs.Global investment in deep-tech has soared from $9.8bn in 2015 to $17.8bn in 2018, with €7.7 billion in Europe alone in 2019. By investing in this sector Ireland will remain at the forefront of new technologies and fast-growing companies. 

The four-month programme, from February to May 2021, will help entrepreneurial explorers to stress test their idea and learn from the best European semiconductor companies, such as OSRAM and IQE. Participants will be introduced to start-up tools and methodologies; given access to resources; and they will be briefed on leading edge developments in opto-electronics and microelectronics, as investigated by IPCEI. Explorer will also offer an opportunity for peer-to-peer learning and to build industrial collaborations across Europe. In addition, the programme will prepare and introduce participants to next stage supports, including grant funding and investment.

The ultimate aim of Tyndall Explorer is to de-risk deep-tech new ventures through product and market validation, supporting participants to test their hypotheses with real potential customers, and giving them access to the technology leaders in this sector.  This will help accelerate early-stage solutions to market or the next phase of development.

The call for entries is now open to any resident of the Republic of Ireland or Europe, in research or in industry, who have a deep-tech idea at start-up stage. Entrants should preferably have a globally scalable concept, and ideally be a team (more than one person).  They must also not have previously received investment funding for the idea to be explored. Start-ups accepted onto Explorer will not be charged fees and no equity will be taken.

Overall, six ideas will be selected to participate, culminating in a programme showcase where one winner will receive a cash prize of €20,000.

Through the programme participants will also engage with deep-tech companies located in Ireland to explore future technology and manufacturing challenges, and opportunities on how the Irish community can work together to build a sustainable and competitive trans-European industry.

The Tyndall Explorer lead, Head of Photonics Operations and IPIC Centre Manager Dr. Patrick Morrissey said

We are looking to identify and support emerging start-up ideas in the area of deep-tech to stimulate new high value ventures that will have economic value, impact and international reachThere are huge opportunities for Ireland to lead the way in deep-tech solutions. We are already competing in technology development and initiatives such as this will sharpen Ireland’s competitive edge and create new SMEs and jobs across a variety of sectors. €7.7 billion was invested in deep-techs in Europe in 2019 alone, so the value to our economy is considerable."

“We are seeking to attract people with an explorer-type personality, very much like John Tyndall. Tyndall had a fearless personality and demonstrated this through his scientific experiments, explanations and through his mountaineering exploits. We want to continue his legacy and recruit applicants that are as daring as he was.  At this stage all we need are great ideas at an early stage”

“Those selected will come away from the Explorer programme with idea validation, an expanded network across Europe’s leading semiconductor companies, and investment opportunities.”

Dr Sanathana Konugolu Venkata Sekar, Senior Researcher, Tyndall
Dr Patrick Morrissey, Head of Photonics Operations and IPIC Centre Manager, Tyndall

Although the Tyndall Explorer programme is new, start-ups have been benefiting from the technology and expertise at Tyndall for a number of decades.Dr Sanathana Konugolu Venkata Sekar has a scaling start-up business BioPixS that launched from Tyndall earlier this year. “The technology and start-up supports from Tyndall, such as their Deep Dive programme, were critical in helping me to launch BioPixS, which has already secured €0.7M of funding from the EU in its first 8 months in operation. Our mission is to drive standards in the field of Biophotonics through innovative phantoms that mimic tissue optical properties.”

A huge benefit of the programme is that it is supported by leading global high-tech photonics companies Osram and IQE, who will provide real-world best in class guidance and insights for participants. Based in Munich, Osram primarily focuses on semiconductor-based technologies and their products are used in highly diverse applications ranging from virtual reality to autonomous driving and from smartphones to networked, intelligent lighting solutions in buildings and cities. UK-based IQE are the global leader in the design and manufacture of advanced semiconductor epiwafer products driving connected 5G technologies.

The Programme will be delivered remotely by Tyndall, IPIC, Osram, and IQE, in partnership with IPCEI companies, who will provide technology mentors that will offer advice on the technology, its development and related areas such a supply chain development. This will ensure that each team will have a comprehensive training and mentorship support structure covering both technology and commercial activities. 

Participants will also have access to relevant government agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, IDA and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), during the Pre-Accelerator programme and the outreach event.

Following the Pre-Accelerator Programme, an invitation only Outreach Event will take place in Cork, or virtually, which will bring together over 150 senior representatives from global deep-tech companies, from multinationals to SMEs, from ICT to Medical device companies, along with representatives from the IPCEI partner companies, relevant Irish government agencies and the project partners.

The event, which will take place in June 2021, will focus on Europe’s future deep-tech technology and advanced manufacturing needs to support existing and new emerging markets, and it will explore ideas on how the represented organisations can work together to address the needs and deliver economic growth.

The Explorer pre-accelerator programme is part of the collaboration between IPIC in partnership with Tyndall National Institute, OSRAM Opto Semiconductors and IQE and it is supported by SFI, Cork Institute of Technology, DCU, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork.

Apply online by midnight on 18th January at or email queries to



About Tyndall National Institute 

Tyndall is a leading European research centre in integrated ICT (Information and Communications Technology) materials, devices and systems. It is one of Ireland’s five National Labs, specialising in both electronics and photonics. Tyndall works with industry and academia to transform research into products in its core market areas of electronics, communications, energy, health, agri-tech & the environment. With a network of over 200 industry partners and customers worldwide, they are focused on delivering human and economic impact from excellence in research. A research flagship of University College Cork, Tyndall is home to a research community of 600 people of 52 nationalities. 

The Irish Photonics Integrated Centre (IPIC) at Tyndall National Institute is Ireland’s centre of excellence for research, innovation and Ph.D training in photonics – the science and application of light. Our work ranges from photonics theory right through to device development and fabrication, enabled by our world-class laboratories and semiconductor fabrication facilities at Tyndall. We work closely with over 30 industry partners to develop next-generation products across high growth technology sectors and to commercialise our disruptive technologies, delivering commercial and research impact.


For more information on Tyndall please contact:  

Ursula Morrish, Marketing and Communications Manager,  
Tyndall National Institute,  
+353 (0) 852372189