We present the numerical optimization of GaN-based embedded 2D-Photonic Crystal (PhC) LEDs based on a full 3D scattering matrix model pointing out the importance of a proper vertical design in embedded PhC structures. The growth of such structures following the numerical simulation trends is shown to be feasible. Experimental results of a bright embedded 2D-PhC LED (9mW at 20mA) under electrical injection are reported. Angular measurements are performed to understand the efficiency in light extraction of the PhCs and the mechanisms limiting its full potential are presented. (C) 2009 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim