Keeping an eye on critical value streams

Sept. 19, 2023
With ever-accelerating scientific and technical advancements, it’s more critical than ever to understand the state of innovation value streams — especially those poised to catalyze business innovation and economic growth.

Huge concerns over recent semiconductor supply chain disruptions have countries and companies racing to capture their shares of the essential chip market. At issue: Too much of the global production capacity is concentrated in too few locations, threatening not only the flow of critical components but also the economic fate of regions, countries, and companies—not to mention geopolitical power balances.

As a result, nearly every developed country has funded massive programs recently that promise to reorder the world’s chip manufacturing infrastructure.

The situation highlights the necessity of establishing links between basic science and research and the early-stage commercialization that ultimately impacts production supply chains. That’s why so many country-led initiatives involve developing an ecosystem, an array of organizations delivering essential products and services that support technology development from the lab to its delivery to the end user.

My interest in understanding the innovation value stream stems from my earlier career experience as an editor at Electronics (early 1990s) and IndustryWeek (late 1990s through 2006). Then, we reported on and shared concerns about the accelerating trend toward “fabless” semiconductor companies that outsourced production to low-cost, offshore locations, which arguably played a role in establishing the current problematic semiconductor supply chain.

Its been fascinating to report on the business dynamics through the years, studying how companies bring the latest product and service innovations to market and how a better understanding of the innovation value stream impacts outcomes. Now, I'm delighted to direct my attention toward activities earlier in the stream to explore how basic science reveals new knowledge about how things work while catalyzing business innovation and economic growth.

As I orient myself within the world of photonics technologies, each with potential impacts on a bewildering array of end-user applications, I invite you to share your thoughts. What information do you need about any part of the photonics innovation value stream?

As for my focus, Ill report on the latest technology advancements ready for design into prototypes and early commercialization to complement the staffs renowned coverage of technical advances. With this focus, among many other vital topics, I’ll be watching to learn how the semiconductor innovation value stream and countries new production and supply chains adapt to include the sectors next-generation technology, photonic integrated circuits (PICs), which market forecasters project will grow substantially this decade.

About the Author

Patricia Panchak | Editor in Chief

Patricia Panchak began her role as editor in chief of Laser Focus World in August 2023. She has held editorial leadership roles for over 25 years—15 years of which were with IndustryWeek as the brand’s managing editor and then editor-in-chief. From 2011 through 2017, she then served as group content director for the Manufacturing & Supply Chain Group, which included IndustryWeek.

Since 2018, Patricia spent time as a business journalist, editorial consultant, and public speaker, specializing in business and manufacturing strategies and best practices; trends and emerging technologies; and public policy.

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