Info Session Q&A 9 Sept.: HighTechXL adding two new photonics technologies, needs CTOs for deep-tech teams

If you ever wanted to lead a deep-tech startup as a co-founder, this is your moment. Dutch venture builder HighTechXL is forming teams around seven advanced technologies from the world’s most prestigious R&D efforts, including PhotonFirst and CERN, teams who will create startups to take this tech market.

HighTechXL tech transfer teams have been busy for the past six months scouting this technology and assembling the pieces. Now, they need your technical skills and energy to realize the full potential of this technology.

For the next cohort coming up in October, they’ve already connected to a group of outstanding talents with backgrounds in engineering, physics and business. The next step is the HighTechXL Info Session Q&A scheduled for 9 September as they build toward launching their next cohort in October around technologies from CERN, European Space Agency, TNO, Philips and PhotoFirst.

As we approach that event, HighTechXL is particularly focused on finding CTOs with the expertise and vision to both harness the technology and to help shape the teams.

This cohort will include the first collaboration with PhotonFirst, a pioneer in integrated photonic sensing with modules and systems used in aerospace, medical, mobility and energy.

PhotonFirst is based in Alkmaar, Netherlands, but also has operations at High Tech Campus Eindhoven, where HighTechXL is headquartered.


Here are confirmed technologies for the next cohort:


PhotonFirst has developed an optical displacement encoder in the form of a multi-wavelength common path interferometer. The sensor exists in different grades and is able to measure sub-μm or even sub-nm target displacement even at longer ranges of tens of meters.

The ODE is designed to be integrated in high-tech control systems such as electron microscopes to improve stage position accuracy and stability.

Additional uses include integration into many high-tech manufacturing processes.

You can download the one-pager here.


PhotonFirst’s Fiber Optics Sensing solution can measure up to 2,000 sensors over hundreds or thousands of meters of a single optical fiber. The sensors can be scanned continuously with a high refresh rate.

Uses include monitoring the physical security of large critical infrastructures such as data centers.

You can download the one-pager here.

See more here from McKinsey about the next wave of innovation in photonics.


Scientists at CERN developed the coaxial pulse conditioner technology to generate extremely precise (nanosecond scale) electrical pulses at high voltage and high currents. One of the key benefits of this technology lies in its ability to generate extremely repeatable pulses, down to only a few volts of accuracy for a pulse of more than 10,000 V.

It is currently being used to drive the damping ring magnet kickers of the Compact Linear Collider at CERN. But high-power nanosecond-scale pulses have applications in numerous domains beyond linear accelerators, including better control of radiation in medical imaging and treatment; generating clean energy efficiently for providing clean air and water.

You can download the one-pager here.


This novel, maskless lithography technology enables the printing of 3D structures with nanometer resolution in polymer resins. Although the technology itself has existed for some time, the printing process was a slow one. TNO has developed technology to speed up the printing process, enabling industrial applications without sacrificing superior resolution. The technology involves a multi-laser-based, precision exposure machine as well as patented polymer chemistry. 

Potential applications include maskless lithography and very precise 3D printing of optical structures for optical instruments and photonics chips.

You can download the one-pager here.


Electro-active polymers change when stimulated with electricity. When electrical current is applied, it is possible to induce a small deformation of a very thin polymer layer.

Potential application areas:

•  Medical wearable and implantable devices, such as sleep monitoring
•  Industrial sensors
•  Micro- and nano-robotics
•  Haptic feedback: sensors and actuators for sports and motion capture
•  Smart clothing, wellness

You can download the one-pager here.


Philips researchers have developed a unique, miniature, fiber-optics-based microscope which provides a wide field of view of approximately 200 microns with sub-micron accuracy. The microscope fits in a probe smaller than three millimeters in diameter and four centimeters long. The technology supports advanced imaging techniques, such as reflectance, fluorescence, 2-photon, Raman spectroscopy or 3D-computed tomography.

Potential application areas:

• Biomedical and pharmaceutical fields for cancer diagnosis
• Pre-clinical trials
• Development of new medicine
• Versatile and cost-effective in-vivo inspection capabilities

You can download the one-pager here.


TNO Holst Centre gives new form factors and design freedom to electronics by printing and enables new applications by combining traditional components. New technology includes ultra-thin printed temperature sensors.

Potential applications are broad and include:

• Battery management systems
• Mobile communications
• Consumer electronics
• Household appliances
• Heating & air conditioning
• Industrial Electronics
• Automotive Electronics

You can download a one-pager here.


Once HighTechXL executives identify the new technologies, they begin the process of identifying potential founders.

• First, they ask them to fill out an entrepreneur questionnaire.
• Then, they send an interview invitation to those who meet the criteria.
• Next is a co-founder meet & greet where you will choose the co-founders for your team
• Finally, you’ll attend the Technology Deep-Dive.

During the mini-hackathon, a gathering of entrepreneurs, technical experts, co-founders and mentors use their brainpower to generate creative and bright ideas. They consider the question: Where can this technology really add value or solve problems? 

Co-founders who came together during the Tech Deep-Dive events continue to work on their business propositions. On Final Selection Day, teams will pitch their deep-tech startup ideas, and a team of experts invites them to start the nine-month venture building program.

The HighTechXL accelerator program lasts for nine months, and you can see the granular details here.

And you can sign up for the Info Session Q&A here.

If you join HighTechXL next startup cohort, you’ll be joining a program with a multi-year history of creating and accelerating some of Europe’s most successful companies including:

 Accerion, a mobile robot positioning scale-up headquartered in Venlo, Netherlands and with clients in 13 countries across the globe.

• Amber, “the cars-sharing platform for people for people who don’t want cars.” After a recent pandemic pivot from B2B to consumer-facing, Amber currently has a waiting list for vehicles.

• Onera, which develops sleep diagnosis technology, raised 9.3 million euros in its most recent funding round.

• Incooling, which has developed technology to cool CPUs and GPUs in collaboration with global semiconductor companies, including Intel and ASML.

About HighTechXL:

HighTechXL, based in Building 27 on High Tech Campus Eindhoven, is a deep-tech venture builder and accelerator that sources the latest technology at top research institutions, including CERN, Philips, TNO and the European Space agency, then matches new tech with promising talent.

Read more about HighTechXL here on Dispatches.

See more here about Eindhoven’s startup scene.

Website | + posts

Most Popular

To Top

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive the latest news and updates from Dispatches Europe. Get lifestyle & culture, startup & tech, jobs and travel news dispatched to your inbox each week.

You have Successfully Subscribed!