Photonics West 2014 Sees Growth in Event Attendance, Exhibit Visitors

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SPIE Photonics West set new records this year, with more than 21,000 scientists, researchers, engineers, suppliers, entrepreneurs, and industry analysts registered in San Francisco. The event attracts attendees from more than 30 countries, and is the largest and most influential event of the year for the international laser and photonics community.

Bruce Tromberg (Beckman Laser Institute and Clinic, University of California Irvine) was among speakers at the BiOS Hot Topics session on opening day of SPIE Photonics West 2014.

Bruce Tromberg (Beckman Laser Institute and Clinic, University of California Irvine) was among speakers at the BiOS Hot Topics session on opening day of SPIE Photonics West 2014.

Photonics West is where people spanning science, engineering, and the business of optics and photonics come together.

More was promised, and more was delivered, at SPIE Photonics West 2014. The premier annual event for the international optics and photonics community drew 21,360 registered attendees to San Francisco this year, setting yet another all-time attendance record for the event and demonstrating that its emphasis on moving ideas to market is just what the industry wants. Photonics West ran 1-6 February at the Moscone Center, presented by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

The sold-out mid-week Photonics West Exhibition included 1,256 exhibiting companies, topping last year’s previous record, and the weekend BiOS Expo held strong with 214.

The biggest attendance growth was in exhibition visitors. The number of people who came from Silicon Valley and across the globe to walk the exhibition floor was 8% higher than last year.

Exhibitors in both exhibitions were pleased with the results.

"I came from the East Coast to BiOS on the West Coast and found that my East Coast customers are here,” said a first-time U.S. exhibitor at the weekend BiOS Expo. “I think that BiOS is the best show we have ever done. Both the traffic and the quality of leads are very good.”

“Another great show -- companies have to come to Photonics West,” said Daniel Bukaty Jr., president of Precision Glass & Optics. “It's the best show of the year!”

”Photonics West is where people spanning science, engineering, and the business of optics and photonics come together,” said Andrew Brown, Senior Director of SPIE. “The information sharing and face-to-face connections result in new collaborations and business opportunities.”

The combined annual contribution to the global photonics market of the companies at Photonics West totals more than $84 billion dollars, according to new industry data developed by a team at SPIE and announced during the event. This study focuses only on companies producing core optics and photonics components and is available from SPIE.

The technical side of Photonics West showed 3% growth over last year as well, with more than 4,700, presentations.

A new Translational Research virtual symposium emphasized outcomes-based research and product acceptance, a theme that carried throughout the week. The new program joined long-running symposia on BiOS (biomedical optics and biophotonics), OPTO (optoelectronics), LASE (lasers), and MOEMS-MEMS (microtechnology and nano-optics), and the Green Photonics virtual symposium.

“This symposium gets a little better, broader, and deeper every year,” Rox Anderson, BiOS symposium co-chair, told a packed audience at the popular BiOS Hot Topics session on the first day of the event. He called the growth a reflection the symposium’s goal: “We are all trying to help people.”

Throughout the week, advances were reported on new technologies for noninvasive medical treatments, ultrafast lasers to enable more efficient manufacturing applications, silicon photonics to meet the escalating demand for data transfer, bioinspired optical systems for sensors to monitor changes within the body, and more.

A technology transfer information session and startup accelerator forum providing ideas for those looking to commercialize new technology were among several new programs for business executives, adding even more energy to established events that celebrate innovative new products and nurture startups.

Winners of the prestigious Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation included one company with wins in two different categories for two different products – a first in the annual competition -- and an aspiring entrepreneur walked away with $15,000 in cash and equipment credit after taking first-place in the SPIE Startup Challenge. (Details on the Prism Awards are online at 'Winners named for 2014 Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation'.)

Robert McLaughlin of the University of Western Australia bested 24 competitors in the Startup Challenge, which is sponsored by Jenoptik and supported by Edmund Optics and several other companies. McLaughlin successfully pitched his idea for a new microscope-in-a-needle product. (A brief video (9:56) of the winning pitch is online.)

SPIE Photonics West will return to the Moscone Center in San Francisco 7-12 February 2015. More information and photos from the 2014 event are online.

About SPIE

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. The Society serves more than 256,000 constituents from approximately 155 countries, offering conferences, continuing education, books, journals, and a digital library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional networking, and patent precedent. SPIE provided over $3.2 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2013.

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