External injection of electron bunches into laser-driven plasma waves so far has not resulted in ‘controlled’ acceleration, i.e. production of bunches with well-defined energy spread. Recent simulations, however, predict that narrow distributions can be achieved, provided the conditions for properly trapping the injected electrons are met. Under these conditions, injected bunch lengths of one to several plasma wavelengths are acceptable. This paper first describes current efforts to demonstrate this experimentally, using state-of-the-art radio frequency technology. The expected charge accelerated, however, is still low for most applications. In the second part, the paper addresses a number of novel concepts for significant enhancement of photo-injector brightness. Simulations predict that, once these concepts are realized, external injection into a wakefield accelerator will lead to accelerated bunch specs comparable to those of recent ‘laser-into-gasjet’ experiments, without the present irreproducibility of charge and final energy of the latter.