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EPIC Celebrates 10 Years

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EPIC, the European Photonics Industry Consortium, marked its 10th anniversary last week with a number of activities involving the European photonics community, including meetings with the European Commission, an EU funding session, an award presentation, and panel discussions on technology and business.

The Dec. 13 event was attended by 160 delegates from 26 countries, EPIC said, including industry executives and representatives from public organizations. EPIC was also recognized by the Optical Society, or OSA, for its sustained effort in promoting the photonics industry in Europe for a decade.

Carlos Lee, EPIC director general (far left), moderated the panel discussion “Science, Research, and Applications,” which featured Anne Glover, chief scientific adviser to the president of the European Commission; Thomas Skordas, head of Photonics Unit, European Commission; Eicke Weber, director, Fraunhofer ISE (Germany); Christian Bosshard, vice president, CSEM (Switzerland); Santiago Royo, director, UPC-CD6 (Spain); and Gediminas Raciukaitis, head of department, Center for Physical Sciences and Technology (Lithuania).

A keynote presentation by imec gave participants a peek into some possibilities in medicine and life sciences fueled by the merger of electronics and photonics technologies, which stimulated conversation in the subsequent panel discussions.

A discussion on photovoltaic (PV) technology covered issues such as pricing, manufacturing and regulations. Eicke Weber of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Fraunhofer ISE) pointed out the importance of access to capital for large-scale manufacturing capability and also clarified misconceptions about the cost of PV, describing how in some regions it is already competitive.

The wide-ranging discussion addressed issues such as access to skilled labor, increased involvement of women, public procurement as a tool to promote the adoption of new technologies, such as LED streetlights; and optimization of funding possibilities, including regional development funds.

Martin De Prycker, ex-CEO of startup Caliopa, said that public funding can be a golden cage and encouraged innovators to form their own startups. Because the solar industry still relies heavily on support from public authorities (even though the accessibility and priorities must be reviewed), EPIC may coordinate a call for follow-up action on behalf of its members.

In other news, EPIC President Drew Nelson asked for regulations to align with and support Europe's priorities, pointing out that GaAs and InP have been placed on the list of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) by the European Chemicals Agency; he further noted that EPIC has asked for a diligence process.

EPIC Director General Carlos Lee reminded participants that photonics often does not demand high production volumes and that it is important for companies to have access to low-scale manufacturing through foundries or universities that already have the necessary equipment and infrastructure.

The discussion turned to the need to raise public awareness of photonics and to the United Nations’ designation of 2015 as the Year of Light. The initiative, supported by EPIC and many other organizations worldwide, will provide an opportunity to coordinate activities that raise the profile of photonics from 2014 to 2016. One participant suggested holding an annual Day of Photonics for long-term systematic awareness of the industry's importance and contribution to addressing societal challenges.

The session on EU funding gathered 70 companies that have extensive experience in the process and that are currently planning their participation in upcoming calls. In addition to the photonics calls, opportunities in electronics also were presented, and EPIC promised to organize joint meetings with other sectors such as life sciences, transport, security, energy and other domains where photonics plays an enabling role.

The EPIC event also hosted the 18th meeting of the International Optoelectronics Association, at which market data and technology trends were shared among eight associations from Europe, America and Asia for further dissemination among their members. The IOA was sponsored by Photonics Finland and Swissphotonics. Sponsors of the anniversary event included CEA-LETI, CSEM, Edmund Optics and Laser World of Photonics.

Recognizing Entrepreneurship in Photonics

The EPIC Phoenix Award, which recognizes photonics entrepreneurship, was presented to Advanced Fiberoptic Engineering (AFE) CEO Nick Martin. The Witney, England-based fiber optics business, in operation since 1994, became AFE in June 2005 after having previously been part of Uniphase Corp., JDS Uniphase and Afonics via a management buyout. Seven key staff members formed AFE after Afonics went bankrupt. The company is profitable and has grown steadily, EPIC said, doubling its sales since 2005 and now employing 32.

The EPIC Phoenix Award 2013, recognizing entrepreneurship in the field of photonics, was presented to Advanced Fibreoptic Engineering of the UK. Nick Martin, CEO of AFE, is pictured receiving the award from Drew Nelson, president of EPIC. 

"Many hard lessons learned from Afonics have been successfully applied to the AFE business," EPIC said of presenting AFE with the award.

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Feb 2014
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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