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  • EU Photonics Group Urges R&D Funding
Mar 2006
STRASBOURG, France, March 30, 2006 -- European photonics companies will announce they plan to increase their own spending on R&D by 330 million euros (about $4 million) per year and will call for doubled European and national spending on photonics research and development in the next five years, at the SPIE-sponsored Photonics Europe exhibition, to be held April 3-7 in Strasbourg, France.
Alexander von Witzleben (left), president of Photonics21 and CEO of Jenoptik AG, will present European Commissioner Viviane Reding (both pictured here at a Photonics21 event in Brussels in December) -- with a European photonics research agenda at Photonics Europe 2006. Reding will deliver the keynote speech, "Europe at Light Speed." (Photo: Photonics21)
Alexander von Witzleben, managing director of Jenoptik AG and president of Photonics21, an industry initiative comprised of Europe's leading optical technology companies and research organizations, will present the "Photonics21 Strategic Research Agenda" to Europe's information society and media commissioner Viviane Reding at Photonics Europe. Drawn up by more than 350 experts from 27 countries, including 120 companies, the agenda outlines the basis for a common strategy to consolidate Europe's global market leadership in photonics.

"Europe must take urgent action that in view of the well-structured approach and the disproportionately high R&D investments in photonics on the rival markets in USA and Asia," von Witzleben said in a statement. He said 16 percent of Europe's working population is dependent on photonics industries, with more than 200,000 jobs involving photonics -- two thirds of them in small- to medium-size enterprises -- and two million in manufacturing. He also stressed the effect of photonics on other industries, including automotive, information technology and communications.

Photonics21 members include Bookham Technology plc; Trumpf Laser and Electronics Division, Germany; Philips Lighting BV; Kista Photonics Research Center, Sweden; Aixtron AG; Warsaw University of Technology; Universiteit Gent, Belgium; and the National University of Ireland, Galway. The group said support should focus on the European Union (EU) Seventh Research Framework Programme 2007-2013 (FP7), designed to respond to the competitiveness and employment needs of the EU, and recommended a doubling of EU funding. It said funding must be tailored to the needs and requirements of the economy to ensure that the results of increased R&D activities are more efficiently translated into successful market products, and that this can be achieved through closer collaboration between the photonics industry, research, funding agencies and the European Union.

Unless the government and companies invest more in photonics, von Witzleben said, "a key technology will lose valuable ground and seriously damage related sectors of industry. Europe should not compromise its head start in the field of photonics.

"The productivity and competitiveness of these sectors depend to a large extent on the research findings and practical application of photonics," he said. "The USA and Asia spend four times as much as Europe on research and development in the field of photonics. Those countries have also advanced significantly in the last few years, thanks to their concerted and well-structured policies. Under these circumstances, Europe cannot afford to continue operating on a fragmented national basis, but instead needs to establish a common platform that will provide the essential conditions under which it can compete successfully on tomorrow's markets."

Nearly 2200 are expected to attend Photonics Europe to participate in conferences covering research in optoelectronics, biophotonics and new therapies using light, solar energy, nanotechnology, lasers, multimedia, optical sensors, silicon photonics and other fields.

The exhibition will also feature a free afternoon session on April 4, the "OPERA Forum on FP-7 and the Photonics Technology Platform," where speakers will present a vision for the next decade driven by innovation in photonics, including research in imaging, communications, lighting, manufacturing and other applications.

On April 6, Malcolm Harbour, vice chairman of the European Parliament’s Science and Technology Assessment Panel, will present "The European Parliament: A Strong Advocate of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) Research."

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The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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