Driving innovation

Speaking to attendees at the recent Photonics Europe meeting in Strasbourg, France, Ronand Burgess of the European Commission’s Photonics Unit said that photonics in Europe grew 12% to reach €49 billion ($75 billion) in 2006.

Jun 1st, 2008
Th Sanderson

Speaking to attendees at the recent Photonics Europe meeting in Strasbourg, France, Ronand Burgess of the European Commission’s Photonics Unit said that photonics in Europe grew 12% to reach €49 billion ($75 billion) in 2006. “At 12%, that makes it a high-growth industry,” he said. Burgess also noted that photonics production in Europe is now equivalent in Euros to that of microelectronics production—but with a higher growth rate. Photonics employs 246,000 people and involves more than 5000 companies, according to Burgess, who lamented the fact that, despite the overall economic significance of photonics within Europe, its importance goes unrecognized by the general public—unlike that of microelectronics.

Perhaps that will change. The European Commission (EC) set up a dedicated Photonics Unit last year and the EC photonics budget has increased 40%. The EC Photonics Unit leader, Thierry Van der Pyl, and Viviane Reding, the relatively high-profile European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, were recognized in March by the OSA (www.osa.org) for their efforts to bring photonics to the forefront of technology discussions within the EU. And Reding recently stated that photonics is driving innovation in Europe. Find out more about how the EC is pushing photonics R&D in Europe under the auspices of its Photonics21 initiative in this month’s European Report on page 66.

Innovation was also prominent at the combined CLEO/QELS/PhAST conferences last month in San Jose, CA, where more than 1900 technical papers in 247 technical sessions covered practically all aspects of current photonics and optoelectronics research and development. Ursula Keller, head of research for the Institute for Quantum Electronics at ETH Zurich was presented with the Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize for her contributions to the development of ultrafast lasers and semiconductor mode locking. And the PhAST/Laser Focus World Innovation Award was won by Coherent (Santa Clara, CA) for its optically pumped semiconductor laser (see page 65). Watch for more reports about other innovations from these conferences at www.laserfocusworld.com and in next month’s issue.

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Stephen G. Anderson
Associate Publisher/Editor in Chief
stevega@pennwell.com

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