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

“do you have a great idea for a new product or service?

we want to hear from you!

explorer, a deep-tech pre-accelerator, is currently accepting applications for its 2021 programme aimed at empowering European entrepreneurs with deep-tech ideas.”

Irish Photonics Integrated Centre (IPIC) is delighted to announce the launch of a new pre-accelerator programme for deep-tech start-ups, in partnership with the IPCEI European cluster collaboration, and international high-tech photonics companies OSRAM Opto Semiconductors (OSRAM) and IQE.

The ultimate goal of 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 programme 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.

The four-month programme, running 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 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 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.”

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.

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

For more information please visit explorer.