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Become an Integrated Photonics Startup Co-founder


5656 AE Eindhoven
T: +31 (0)85 112 43 37

Language: English
Hours / week: 40


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Are you someone with an entrepreneurial spirit? Excited by technology that can help solve the world’s most challenging problems? Driven by a love of innovation and technology? 

HighTechXL is a deep-tech venture builder based in Brainport Eindhoven, Europe’s most innovative technology region, looking to give ambitious co-founders (CEO, CFO, CTO) an opportunity to build an integrated photonics startup from the ground up. 

Their structured program for entrepreneurs puts you in touch with industry experts and corporate partners – significantly improving your chances of reaching the funding stage.

Become a Co-founder of an Integrated Photonics Startup

What’s on offer 

This is your chance to take advanced technologies to market and tackle the big challenges faced by society today. If you’ve ever dreamed of creating your own tech startup but didn’t know where to start, HighTechXL can provide the building blocks you need. 

Join a thriving and connected ecosystem of experienced tech and business professionals who’ll provide you with the industry insight and support you need to run a viable business. 

It’s a unique opportunity to work with advanced tech coming from CERN, ESA, Philips, TNO, PhotonFirst and other global innovators as part of a structured and supportive program. 

And when it’s time to launch, you’ll connect with investors and industry ecosystems like PhotonDelta, who share the mission of building deep-tech ventures with a purpose.

Who this opportunity is for

This is a call for entrepreneurs who want to build their own integrated photonics startup. That includes:

  • A photonic chip design company
  • A supplier to the Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC) value chain 
  • A company building applications with photonic chips
  • An existing startup interested in adding integrated photonics to your product 

Listen to the co-founder experiences of Betsy Lindsey, CFO at Aircision.



Not familiar with integrated photonics?

Not a problem! Two of the three co-founder roles don’t require any technical expertise in integrated photonics. 

But if it’s new to you, here’s a brief explanation:

Photonic technology detects, generates, transports and processes light. Current uses include lasers, sensors and fiber-optic networks. 

Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs) combine two or more photonic functions into a single chip to create new, faster, and more energy efficient devices. PICs are highly effective at processing and transmitting data. They can also be integrated alongside traditional electronic chips.

Co-founders we’re looking for

As part of the C-suite in an integrated photonics startup, you’ll be: 

  • Willing to take on the support and coaching offered during the nine-month program
  • Able to deal with uncertainty, setbacks and changing insights
  • Resilient and able to adapt
  • Dedicated to making the startup a success

There are three types of role available:

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Chief Business Officer (CBO)
  • Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

We believe startup teams should consist of at least a CEO, CTO, and CBO. Only the CTO roles require technical knowledge of integrated photonics. Here’s a profile of each role:

Chief Executive Officer

You have a keen business mind and are able to translate your vision into actions. You collaborate with your team and, together, develop a business proposition to take the tech to market. You respect your team members for their individual qualities and make sure each of them is able to use those qualities in their respective roles. You are not afraid to address difficult issues and not afraid to ask for help. Taking ownership comes to you naturally and involving others is second nature. You have led small teams before and are confident when facing the challenge of building a company with little budget from the ground up. You get things done and don’t dwell on what is not possible.

Chief Business Officer 

You are business-minded, and you are able to clearly see the opportunities in your market. You connect with others to help them see the possibilities as well. You are customer-centered and market-focused, aware of how and where your startup can add value. You love to engage with customers, validating the assumptions of your team and building a relationship for the future. You have had a commercial role before and love to talk to others about your solution. You understand that translating the technology into a solution takes time, but you are not afraid to engage with potential customers at an early stage.

Chief Technical Officer 

You have a technical background in integrated photonics. And because of your knowledge, you are the main contact person for the knowledge institution. You are able to ask the right questions to get the information you need from the knowledge institution and ensure your team can progress. You work closely together with your team to turn technology into solutions or applications. Using technologies and applying them to solve issues or problems makes you happy. You work fast. You don’t lose yourself in the details, and you can zoom out to see the big picture when necessary.

What you’ll need to succeed

  • Eagerness to take ownership and be in the lead
  • Commitment and dedication to the startup
  • Understanding that process is uncertain (setbacks may and will happen)
  • Be able to deal with changing insights
  • The skill to prove the business case you developed is viable after the first phase
  • The right level of energy and ability to build relationships

How it works

  • Step 1: The first step to becoming a co-founder is to fill out the entrepreneur questionnaire to determine if startup life is for you. You’ll then be invited to an interview.
  • Step 2: Next, you’ll attend a Tech Briefing to learn more about the technologies which interest you. All Tech Briefings are held on the same day, giving co-founders the opportunity to attend more than one session before joining a team.
  • Step 3: During the FasTrackathon, co-founder teams join entrepreneurs, technical experts and mentors and use their brainpower to generate creative and bright ideas around each technology, answering the question: Where can this technology really add value or solve problems?
  • Step 4: Teams continue to work on their business propositions during Prep Week. On Final Selection Day, teams pitch their deep-tech startup ideas before a team of experts invites them to start the nine-month venture building program.

Who is HighTech XL?

HighTechXL (HTXL) combines entrepreneurship with deep tech to build ventures that address grand societal challenges. They believe anyone with the ambition to improve the lives of others deserves the opportunity to become an entrepreneur, and they are passionate about sustainability. Their deep-tech startups turn advanced technologies into solutions the market – and humanity – are waiting for.


  • Most co-founder teams start with 70% of the shares
  • Pre-seed investment, if the startup successfully passes the first phase
  • A proven nine-month program, including workshops
  • Experience labs, team and business coaching, legal support, and pitch training
  • Marketing communications, including graphic design and branding
  • When market-ready, support in deal-making and investor connections

Apply for this program

Interested? There are two ways to apply:

  1. Send your motivation and resumé to 
  2. Apply online via the HighTechXL Entrepreneur Portal