EPIC Grows its Network as Globalization Supply Chains Shift

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The European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC) continues to expand both its membership and business value as global supply chains consolidate and shorten.

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HELSINKI, April 6, 2023 — “Globalization was about profits,” said Timothy Paul Kennedy, vice president of Global Sales at Edmund Optics during the Annual Grand Meeting of the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC) held in Helsinki last month.

Globalization had other benefits as well. It helped to optimize supply chains to enable economy of scale for global companies. It also helped developing countries build their manufacturing capacities and workforce and drove down prices for consumers.

Now times have changed. The worldwide pandemic and growing political tensions have caused companies to reconsider the strategic value and risks of global supply chains. Is globalization dead?

Before an attentive audience, Kennedy described the principles of deglobalization from his employer’s perspective. Edmund Optics, for example, began reconsidering its manufacturing sites in the context of several questions: Where is the customer base? What are the costs of doing business across political borders? Where is value created in the supply chain?
EPIC members convened in Helsinki last month for its 2023 Annual Grand Meeting.
EPIC members convened in Helsinki last month for its 2023 Annual Grand Meeting. Courtesy of EPIC.
This allowed Edmund Optics to get an early jump on strategic challenges, such as those brought on by border closings during COVID. One example is the company’s buildout of a new factory in Malaysia to reduce the impact of that country’s border closure with Singapore while maintaining a highly skilled workforce in the region. Kennedy’s key takeaway from recent years? “Deglobalization is more likely to be a shift in the strategic position of globalization rather than a complete deglobalized structure.”

The EPIC culture
Kennedy’s presentation is a good example of how EPIC selects contributions for its annual meeting. Leading figures of the photonics community are invited to give insights that address current or recurring problems that their peers are encountering. Carlos Lee, EPIC’s general director, brought the motivation of the event to a short slogan: “Learning, connecting, enjoying.”

Connecting people is something at which EPIC excels. Its meetings have the usual coffee breaks in between sessions. But then there’s the routine request that attendees stand up during a session and exchange business cards with two neighbors they have not yet met. That is the “Tom Pearsall moment,” named after the founder of EPIC, who introduced this method to push networking beyond the limits of people’s established circles.

“We are a non-profit organization that looks for quality,” Carlos Lee said. “Participation at a lot of EPIC’s events is by invitation only or restricted to one person per company.” It is in this trusted environment, comprising a largely C-level audience, that industry leaders feel more free to share their very personal thoughts on the stage.

Physicists with cool humor: During EPIC’s Annual Grand Meeting, Carlos Lee, EPIC’s general director, showed a video featuring Nikolajus Gavrilinas, CEO, LITILIT, who addressed attendees from a frozen lake. Courtesy of EPIC.
Physicists with cool humor: During EPIC’s Annual Grand Meeting, Carlos Lee, EPIC’s general director, showed a video featuring Nikolajus Gavrilinas, CEO, LITILIT, who addressed attendees from a frozen lake. Courtesy of EPIC.
This social chemistry prompted particularly interesting insights during the session at Helsinki’s meeting on Entrepreneurship, Investment, Exit Strategy in which several start-up CEOs spoke about their successful exits.

Tapio Kallonen, CEO at SPECIM, for example, took the audience on a ride through one year of exit preparation and execution. What did he find most important? To get a key team in place that was available for 24/7 collaborative work throughout the exit preparation period. Seppo Orsila, CEO of Modulight, followed with a similar story about bringing Modulight to its listing on NASDAQ.

EPIC’s best
EPIC also uses its Annual Grand Meeting as a platform to recognize members and their accomplishments. Its annual EPIC CEO Award this year went to Håkan Karlsson, head of the photonics division at HÜBNER Group and CEO of Cobolt. He cofounded Cobolt AB in 2000 as the first company to bring diode-pumped lasers using periodically poled nonlinear optical materials to the market. After selling Cobolt AB to HÜBNER Group in 2015, Karlsson continued to lead the latter’s photonics division, which now spans five sites worldwide and offers a range of technologies and products.

EPIC also recognized Kestutis Jasiunas, chairman of the board of EKSPLA, with the EPIC Lifetime Achievement Award for leading the company to become a major player in the global market for scientific picosecond lasers.

What’s next?
EPIC has grown its membership more than five times since 2014 to include more than 800 companies today. Its team has grown rapidly, although compared to other professional societies in the field, its staff of ten appears small. This year, the presidency was passed from Benno Oderkerk to Basil Garabet, CEO of NKT Photonics. And as the global pandemic appears to wind down, the whole EPIC team is set to further the organization’s growth and serve the community with a string of events throughout the coming months.

EPIC’s next Annual Grand Meeting will move to warmer realms: Juan-les-Pins near Nice in Southern France. It is another promising location for EPIC to convene, with great places to dine, excellent international links through Nice’s airport, and more new members to network with. Another good place to learn, connect, and enjoy.

Published: April 2023
BusinessAnnual Grand MeetingEuropean Photonics Industry ConsortiumEPICglobalizationEdmund OpticsTimothy Paul Kennedysupply chaineconomyeconomicsEurope

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