SCHUMER LAUNCHES PUSH TO INCLUDE, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, PHOTONICS & OPTICS INDUSTRY IN ‘AMERICA COMPETES ACT’ REAUTHORIZATION – INCLUSION WOULD ALLOW NATIONAL SCIENCE AGENCIES TO PRIORITIZE PHOTONICS & DIRECT MORE FUNDING AND RESOURCES TO WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, RESEARCH, ACADEMIC PROGRAMS TO BOLSTER INDUSTRY AND KICKSTART JOB CREATION EFFORTS
Schumer Says New ‘American Innovation And Competitiveness Act’ Reauthorizes Many Of ‘America COMPETES Act’ Provisions That Expired In 2013; Reauthorization Provides Perfect Opportunity To Include Photonics & Optics Industry – Including Photonics Would Allow Top Science Agencies To Focus On Bolstering Developing Industry & Directing Resources To Centers Like AIM Photonics In Rochester
Senate Committee Has Incorporated Photonics Into Bill – Schumer Urges Full Senate To Pass It, Citing It Would Encourage Partnerships Between Fed Government, Industry And Academia To Spur R&D Investments, Promote Further Innovation & Create Jobs
Schumer: Fed Resources Could Light The Way For Further Photonics Innovation & Job Creation
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today launched his push to include the photonics and optics industry in the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, which reauthorizes many programs originally included in the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act which expired in 2013. Schumer explained that the COMPETES Act expired in 2013, and with the authorization set for this year, it provides the perfect opportunity for Congress to prioritize the need for this nation’s top science agencies to invest in the fields of photonics and optics. Schumer said including photonics and optics would allow agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to focus on bolstering and developing this industry. This reauthorization will support photonic and optics R&D projects between the private sector, government, and academia, enhance optics and photonics workforce development and education programs, and enhance resources to centers like American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM) Photonics in Rochester. Schumer said the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation incorporated language supporting this burgeoning industry in the bill, and Schumer is urging the full Senate to pass the bill when it comes to the floor.
“The AIM Photonics center in Rochester is already becoming a game-changer in the field of optics and photonics research and development. And in order for this institute to become a true hub of innovation, job creation and economic growth, it will need to tap into the resources and funding our top scientific agencies provide,” said Schumer. “Incorporating the photonics and optics industry in the committee bill was a critical step in the right direction – but we need the full Senate to pass this bill. This is the perfect opportunity to invest in the kind of research and innovation that is going keep our domestic workforce and industry globally competitive with other nations in science and technology.”
According to the National Photonics Initiative, photonics is the generation, transmission and manipulation of light, and including this industry in the Senate Authorization bill would encourage partnerships between the federal government, industry and academia in this field. These public-private partnerships could then gain greater access to federal funding and resources. Schumer said this would allow these partnerships to spear-head pivotal R&D investments in photonics, develop new technologies and create jobs in this developing industry.
Schumer argued that now, more than ever, photonics is becoming the core field of science that underpins a vast amount of the technology that makes our 21st century lives possible. From the fiber optics that drive the internet and mobile communication, to the lasers that enable cutting edge medical screening devices, to energy efficient lighting and electronic displays, and the systems that are vital to our national defense, optical and photonics technologies are a key driver responsible for current and future cutting edge industries and jobs. As a result, Schumer said this nation’s top scientific organizations should be able to focus on directing funding and resources to this industry.
Schumer has long fought to bring the photonics industry the resources it needs, particularly in Upstate NY. Beginning more than three years ago, Schumer lead the federal push that culminated in the Department of Defense (DoD) selecting the Rochester, NY headquartered AIM Photonics proposal as the winner of the DoD’s largest Institute of Manufacturing Innovation (IMI). This win was the culmination of a multi-year effort by Schumer beginning in February 2013 when, he joined local experts in Rochester’s optics technology and high-tech manufacturing industry at the Eastman Business Park to launch the first-ever plan to create a national network of manufacturing hubs, with the aim of bringing one to Upstate New York. Schumer said that many areas in Upstate New York, including Rochester – with its Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster, Rochester Institute of Technology, and University of Rochester, in combination with SUNY Polytechnic’s expertise in nanoscale electronics, the packaging of chips, and photonics – would be a perfect fit to secure funding to establish this new photonics IMI. In October 2014 Schumer announced the Administration had picked Photonics as topic of this latest IMI competition and he pledged to push for a NYS-led applicant. In January 2014, Schumer announced that, following their push, the DOD had selected the joint New York application as one of the finalists. In April 2015, Schumer urged the DOD in a personal meeting with DoD Secretary Ash Carter to select the New York-led application. Furthermore, on July 22, 2015 Schumer announced that following this push, the DoD selected the New York- Rochester AIM Photonics proposal as the winner of the $110M Federal Institute, making the AIM Photonics institute in Rochester a reality. The program is being led by the Department of Defense and institutions in New York State, which are currently working to create a nationwide ecosystem of private sector, government and academic partners that can leverage existing U.S. based expertise and industrial assets to launch leapfrog advancements in new cutting edge technologies, like integrated photonics for the U.S.’s defense.
National Photonics Initiative (NPI) Steering Committee Member and AIM Photonics Corporate Outreach Executive Ed White offered praise for Sen. Schumer and his support of the bill, “on behalf of the NPI, I want to express my deep appreciation for Sen. Schumer’s leadership in ensuring the US remain a competitive force in the optics and photonics industry as demonstrated by his support of S. 3084, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act. This bipartisan bill includes a provision that seeks to bring industry, community colleges and universities together to help promote innovation and keep photonics jobs and companies in New York and across the United States.”
A copy of Schumer’s letter to Senate Appropriators appears below:
Dear Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson,
For the first time ever, the reauthorization of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (America COMPETES Act), which expired in 2013 provides a fitting opportunity for Congress and the nation to recognize and prioritize the need for our top science agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to invest in the fields of Photonics and Optics. Originally passed in 2007 and reauthorized in 2010, before expiring in 2013, this Act was created to invest in innovation, research, and development (R&D) in order to keep our domestic workforce and industry globally competitive with other nations in science and technology.
Specifically, I ask that Photonics and Optics be included in any reauthorization of this legislation and the programs it authorizes as an industry that our federal science agencies should focus on and foster through the promotion of research and development, innovative technological advances, and partnerships among public-private-academia to accelerate the development of a highly trained workforce ready to work in current and future Photonics industries. Now more than ever photonics, which is the generation, transmission and manipulation of light, is becoming the core field of science that underpins a vast amount of the technology that makes our 21st century lives possible. From the fiber optics that drive the internet and mobile communication, to lasers that enable cutting edge medical screening devices, to energy efficient lighting and electronic displays, and the systems that are vital to our national defense, Optical and photonics technologies are the key driver responsible for current and future cutting edge industries and jobs. Last year, I was pleased to support the establishment of the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics), which is being led by the Department of Defense and institutions in New York State, headquartered in Rochester, NY to create a nationwide ecosystem of private sector, government, and academic partners to leverage existing U.S. based expertise and industrial assets to launch leapfrog advancements in new cutting edge technologies, like integrated photonics for our nation’s defense.
In order to create new domestic jobs across other economic sectors and to position the U.S. to be a global leader in the highly skilled photonics industries that will increasing shape the world economy in the decades to come it is vital that our federal science agencies spear-head investments in photonics and promote the development of photonics technologies. I appreciate your ongoing work to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act and your consideration of this request.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator