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Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

Commissioner Reding Calls Photonics Huge Untapped Potential for European Economic Development in the 21st Century

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via NewsEdge Corporation

STRASBOURG, FRANCE -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 04/05/06 -- SPIE Europe announced today that, at the Photonics Europe Symposium and Exhibition underway this week in Strasbourg, France, European Commissioner Viviane Reding accepted the first draft of the Strategic Research Agenda in Photonics from Alexander von Witzleben, president of Photonics21 and CEO and chairman of Jenoptik AG. During her keynote yesterday, Reding, who is responsible for technology funding recommendations to the European Commission, said, "Europe must link research to the delivery of innovation, economic growth and jobs in Europe." She continued, "It is very clear we must gear up research to remain competitive." Reding further pointed out that while Europe already directly and indirectly employs over 2 million people in the photonics industry, the potential for photonics-enabled advancements in the areas of health care, lighting, security, and other applications offers unlimited potential for job creation and economic development in Europe. However, she warned that the photonics community must be realistic in its expectation; EU resources must be used strategically to realise those opportunities with the greatest potential to deliver a return on investment. Reding told a plenary audience of Photonics Europe attendees that public funding for research will continue to be more closely linked to applications with commercial potential. She noted, "We must concentrate our efforts on those areas which show great promise, that are of strategic importance, and where we can expect a greater return on investment. Photonics is one of those areas." She further went on to discuss existing markets that are being driven by photonics technologies, like those involving display and CD/DVD technology; however the European Commission expects that the strategic importance of photonics technology will create new markets of which we are currently unaware. Reding finalized her comments with a challenge to industry to strengthen their investments in R&D to match the higher investments in other regions of the world. She further extended her best wishes to the Photonics Europe audience, noting, "This conference has become a highlight, a 'rendezvous incontournable' for all researchers in the photonics field. I am impressed by the number of papers, more than 1,000, among which almost 200 are a direct result of our funding in the Framework Programme VI, and I believe that this contributed to putting Europe at the speed of light!" Photonics21 is an industry-focused initiative promoting the need for a far more aggressive and rapid commercialization of optics- and photonics-based technologies over the next five years in Europe. Europe's ability to remain competitive in the high-tech arena is seen to be at stake, as well as the competitiveness of major European companies who employ a large segment of Europe's leading researchers, scientists and engineers working in this field. Alexander von Witzleben, CEO and chairman of Jenoptik AG and president of the Photonics21 Strategic Research Agenda, is a prime example of a corporate leader with such concerns. The day began with a plenary that included two hot topics presentations on "Silicon-on-Insulator Microphotonic Devices," by Laurent Vivien, Univ. Paris Sud CNRS (France), and "Engineering and Characterization of Ferroelectric Microstructures for Photonic Crystal Applications," by S. Frilli, Istituto Nazionale di Ottica Applicata, CNR (Italy). It concluded with the anticipated keynote speech by Commissioner Reding, titled "Europe at Light Speed." Reding's talk was followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony that opened the Photonics Europe exhibition of 150 companies and research organizations showcasing high-tech optical components, photonic devices and emerging technologies used to generate, measure and control light. Tuesday concluded with a forum titled, "OPERA Forum on FP-7 and the Photonics Technology Platform." Distinguished speakers from Osram, AIXTRON, and Eblana, amongst others, presented their vision for the next decade of developments in photonics. The Forum attracted an international audience interested in participating in the future of photonics for Europe. On Wednesday, 5 April, a special forum on recent advances in optical coatings technology was presented, organized by the Photonics Cluster (UK) and European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC). This forum will address the increased adoption and application of coatings and finishes within key sectors of aerospace, automotive, medical healthcare as well as other high tech industry, and provide decision-makers with an overview of the latest developments from leading European researchers and corporate leaders. On Thursday, 6 April, Malcolm Harbour, Vice Chairman of the European Parliament's Science and Technology Assessment Panel, will present on "The European Parliament - a strong advocate of ICT Research." Over 2,200 people will come to Photonics Europe to participate in conferences covering the latest research in optoelectronics, biophotonics and new therapies using light, solar energy, nanotechnology, lasers, multimedia, optical sensors, silicon photonics and other fields. The Photonics Europe exhibition is free and open to the public. More information about Photonics Europe, organized by SPIE Europe, is available at www.spie.org/events/europe About SPIE Europe SPIE Europe is a European subsidiary of SPIE -- The International Society for Optical Engineering, a not-for-profit professional society that has become the largest international force for the exchange, collection and dissemination of knowledge in optics, photonics and imaging. Founded in 1955, SPIE organizes technical conferences around the world and publishes journals, books and proceedings, with technical papers available for download via the SPIE Digital Library. See spie.org for more details. SPIE Europe is headquartered in Cardiff, UK.

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