Thursday March 20, 2014

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (Representative New York’s 25th District) sent a letter to President Obama today strongly endorsing the concept of a national manufacturing institute in Optics and Photonics, and clearly stating her position that Rochester, New York plays a leadership role.  Congresswoman Slaughter Optics letter 03 20 14

The National Network for Manufacturing and Innovation was announced by president Obama two years ago.  The President proposed building a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), consisting of regional hubs that will accelerate development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for making new, globally competitive products.

Concurrent with the President’s announcement was the release of Optics & Photonics: Essential Technologies For Our Nation, a report from the National Research Council highlighting the ubiquity of Optics and Photonics technologies in modern life and identifying key challenges for the United States moving forward.  The National Photonics Initiative driven by the report sponsors grew out of the report.

New York Photonics, the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster and Congresswoman Slaughter have enthusiastically supported the National Photonics Initiative, making the National Research Council report and the National Photonics Initiative the focus of our Annual Meetings in 2012 and 2013.

A team from Rochester, including RRPC members, the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Monroe Community College and other stakeholders across the nation have been involved in planning for the possibility of a manufacturing institute in Optics and Photonics for two years.  The Center for Emerging and Innovative Sciences at the University of Rochester hosted an industry charrette, with broad participation from over 150 concerned industry and research representatives from around the country in December, 2012.

Vice President Biden, in Rochester on January 29th to discuss manufacturing initiatives in Monroe Community College, highlighted optics for nearly 30 minutes of his speech.  The next day, in Washington DC, Biden introduced Michael Mandina, President of Optimax System in Rochester to President Obama for conversations about manufacturing and the technical skills gap.

It is expected that President Obama will announce another National Manufacturing Institute within the next six months.

A snapshot of Rochester’s Optics, Photonics and Imaging Industry looks like this:

  • Over 75 OPI Companies, 17,000 employees
  • Over $3B in annual sales
  • 5% – 7% annual employment growth in OPI SME[1]’s < 500 people
  • Monroe Community College Optical System Technology Program, developing technicians for the optics and electro optics workforce
  • Responsible for educating 70% of the Optics PhD’s in the nation
  • 1 in 14 households supported by the industry
  • Home to the nation’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics
  • University of Rochester Institute of Optics
  • Rochester Institute of Technology Imaging Sciences and Microelectronics
  • Bi-Annual Navy SBIR (Small Business Innovation & Research) optics conference
  • OptiFab, the only optical fabrication conference in the U.S.
  • Responsible for generating a vast numbers of the nation’s patents in optics, photonics and imaging technologies.  #1 per capita in patents in the nation.  95% of OPI patent holders still live in Rochester
  • The most robust, sophisticated and highly integrated optics, photonics and imaging supply chain in the nation
  • Top suppliers and builders for machine manufacturing, metrology, nanotechnology, semiconductor, biomedical, consumer electronic, military / defense, laser, research, automotive, mapping, geospatial imaging, entertainment and other OPI products
  • Thorough integration with the nation’s prime and second-tier defense and aerospace contractors

[1] Small and medium-sized enterprises sometimes called SMB’s for small and medium-sized businesses

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New York Photonics is a not-for-profit organization founded to promote and enhance the New York State optics, photonics and imaging industry by fostering the cooperation of business, academia and government.

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