Just down the road, twenty minutes from Rochester.

Off Route 332 half way between the New York State Thruway and Canandaigua.

A Department of Defense Trusted Foundry Specializing in Packaging Photonics Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) on a chip.

What makes this interesting?  Well, for one thing: packaging, and we aren’t talking about wrapping a birthday present or your shipping an receiving department, we are talking about the delicate and miraculous task of putting a silicon semiconductor chip into a metal, glass or ceramic package with the electronic and/or photonics connections that will make it a functional, usable device in something like your computer, your mobile devices, your GPS or your car.

The talent set for packaging MEMS devices will be very similar to packaging integrated photonics devices.

We’re talking about the Smart Systems Technology Center, what once was Infotonics, which emerged as a stand-alone, self-supporting MEMS fabrication and packaging facility after its initial supporters, Kodak, Corning and Xerox all abandoned ship.  What was once a center staring into the abyss was restructured, reorganized and firmly established under the guidance of a reconstituted board of directors.

Who accomplished this amazing collaborative feat?  The chairman of the board at the time was John Hart, CEO of Lumetrics, in Rochester.  Hart, the token “small company representative from the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster” took the helm in 2008, hiring interim CEO John Bellardini (J.C. Jones, currently CFO Chobani) and guiding the center’s recovery from financial mismanagement and plain old shortsightedness to hiring a new (and current) director, Paul Tolley and becoming a profitable enterprise.

During the next two years the center navigated the perilous straights of reorganization — while finding and servicing new customers, and re-establishing the trust of State and Federal Government officials, most notably perhaps, Senator Chuck Schumer, who had every reason to feel betrayed by the way the Infotonics Center, as it was initially called, had failed to live up to its promise – and his support.

When The Infotonics Center merged with SUNY POLYTECH in 2011 it was a self-sufficient, profitable MEMS production center that soon earned Department of Defense “Trusted Foundry” status with the support once again of US Senator Chuck Schumer.

What does the future hold for this jewel in Canandaigua, just outside of Rochester, and a crucial component of the region’s OPI ecosystem?  Once can only hope that they continue working with commercial customers and continue innovating for years to come.

It would be a travesty if this center were to be accidentally tarnished by the events surrounding SUNY Polytech’s 2016 bid-rigging scandal.

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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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