Photonics21 Annual Meeting Focuses on Solutions for ‘Societal Challenges’

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Innovation and technology leaders helped bring focus to the role and further potential of photonics for solving the European society’s identified challenges in special sessions during the Photonics21 annual meeting last week in Brussels. SPIE Europe was a sponsor of the event.

Jenoptik's Michael Mertin, President of Photonics21, at the organization's annual meeting

Michael Mertin, President of Photonics21, at the organization's annual meeting

... think beyond Horizon 2020 and about the strategic positioning of photonics past the end of the decade.

From smart street lighting to food safety and beyond, photonics plays an important part in enabling success in dealing with important Societal Challenges identified by the European Commission. Innovation and technology leaders helped bring focus to the role and further potential of photonics in thematic sessions during the Photonics21 annual meeting last week in Brussels. SPIE Europe was a sponsor of the event, held 28 and 29 May at the Hotel Le Plaza.

Thematic sessions focused on areas of photonics collaboration in developing technology applications for smart cities and buildings, the secure society, resource efficiency and green transport, and health and food security.

In each area, EC representatives outlined where photonics might contribute in various work programmes. Representatives of European Technology Platforms and Public-Private Partnerships carried the discussions forward with presentations on specific opportunities and challenges, such as energy-efficient construction, security in space technology, sustainable transportation, and food security.

In the opening session, In the opening session, Photonics 21 President Michael Mertin, President and CEO of Jenoptik, and Wolfgang Boch, head of the photonics and organic electronics unit at the EC, each urged attendees to think beyond Horizon 2020 and about the strategic positioning of photonics past the end of the decade.

SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs described gains in integrating optics and photonics technology into nationwide R&D funding legislation and technology strategy for the USA as a result of efforts of the National Photonics Initiative. The NPI, of which SPIE is a Founding Sponsor, has objectives similar to Photonics21, Arthurs noted: to advance awareness about photonics, drive funding and investment in photonics, and increase collaboration among industry, government, and academia.

A major advance, the establishment of a new Institute for Manufacturing Innovation in Integrated Photonics, is expected to take a significant step forward this month. The U.S. Department of Defense will name the winning program from among proposals from three consortia.

NPI-led efforts have secured “optics and photonics” reporting language in several R&D bills, and launched the Photonics Industry Neuroscience Group alongside White House BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative, Arthurs said.

Photonics21 Student Innovation Awards were presented by Günther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society; Photonics 21 President Michael Mertin, President and CEO of Jenoptik; and Photonics21 Executive Board Member Roberta Ramponi, Politecnico Milano.

First-place, including a prize of €3500, was awarded to Tobias Schwab of Technische Universität Dresden.

Second-place and a prize of €2000 was awarded to Fabian Stutzki of Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena and Burak Guzelturk of Bilkent University.

The awards were sponsored by SPIE Europe, Amplitude Systemes, Hamamatsu, Jenoptik, LioniX, and Zeiss.

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 nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences, continuing education, books, journals, and a digital library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional networking, and patent precedent. SPIE provided more than $4 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2014. http://www.spie.org

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