Lebby energizes OIDA as new executive director

July 1, 2005
Most recently serving as director of corporate and technical strategy for Bookham Technology (San Jose, CA), Michael Lebby is well qualified to energize the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association (OIDA) as the organization’s newly appointed executive director.

WASHINGTON, DC - Most recently serving as director of corporate and technical strategy for Bookham Technology (San Jose, CA), Michael Lebby is well qualified to energize the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association (OIDA) as the organization’s newly appointed executive director. Prior to Bookham, Lebby served as co-founder, CEO, and president of Ignis Optics from 2001 to 2003 (Ignis was acquired by Bookham in late 2003), was a corporate investor and venture capitalist at Intel (Santa Clara, CA) from 1999 to 2001, and holds more than 175 US-issued patents in optoelectronics after working in research at Motorola in Phoenix, AZ from 1989 to 1997.

An active member of OIDA since its inception in 1991, Lebby is approaching OIDA as a “start-up” company that needs a fresh launch and a more active business relationship with its members.

“OIDA members want more face-to-face meetings and personal help with company issues,” he says. “If you look at the last 15 years of OIDA, it has primarily focused on data and telecommunications rather than the broader scope of optoelectronics, which needs to encompass the emerging areas of bio- and nanotechnology, imaging, solar, and sensor applications.”

Lebby wants to grow the membership of OIDA to reflect this expanded optoelectronic portfolio, and is beginning his work by writing a 300-page optoelectronics marketing review that includes these new technology areas beyond communications.

The mission of the 6-person team at OIDA is to serve as the voice of industry to government and academia in the optoelectronics field, and to develop liaisons with other related industry associations worldwide. OIDA accomplishes this through market reviews, technical workshops, technology roadmaps, presentations and policy updates, and through their Photonics Technology Access Program (PTAP; see Laser Focus World, April 2005, p. 58), which provides pre-commercial photonic devices and equipment to eligible academic institutions. Lebby has outlined a 5-point plan to boost the “value proposition” of OIDA to the optoelectronics community. Specifically, Lebby proposes to:

  • Raise OIDA’s profile by increasing external communications through press releases and joint activities with other related industry organizations including the Optical Society of America (OSA; Washington, DC).
  • Build membership by expanding into non-communications industries and lowering membership fees by 25% to 50%.
  • Expand into other industries such as biotechnology and nanotechnology that historically have not been a strong focus for OIDA.
  • Forge closer ties to venture capitalists by starting an east-coast and west-coast venture-capital advisory board.
  • Broaden the international reach of OIDA by expanding the emphasis on the “world view” and how a better understanding of international trends and infrastructure affect the optoelectronics industry.

On this last point, for example, Lebby plans to have a series of workshops on optoelectronic manufacturing and assembly for companies working with the Far East, highlighting the benefits and risks associated with outsourcing. In addition, Lebby is already communicating-with the help of OSA-the release of a roadmap for the indium phosphide (InP) technology market, including recommendations on ways to improve the current conditions in this particular industry sector.

Another key role of OIDA is the communication of important optoelectronics industry initiatives and developments to the US government. Lebby recognizes the importance of OIDA technology workshops in which program managers at the National Science Foundation (NSF; Arlington, VA), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA; Arlington, VA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST; Gaithersburg, MD and Boulder, CO) gather to hear talks from industry experts in optoelectronics and discuss how the government and OIDA can both benefit from an increased partnership and awareness of the current state of optoelectronics technology. Because Lebby has worked primarily with venture capitalists and best understands private funding regarding the growth of new companies, he looks forward to learning more about how government institutions influence optoelectronics.

“For me, this is a great challenge to better understand the role of government in optoelectronics, to convey that knowledge to OIDA members, and to strengthen the partnerships we have already formed with NSF, DARPA, and NIST,” he said.

Lebby will work out of the Washington, DC OIDA office. You can contact him at [email protected].

-Gail Overton

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