16 Aug 2016
Goal is to ‘catalyze, convene and connect’ the optics industry sector across Arizona.
Optics community representatives in Arizona, one of the key hubs for photonics-related research and manufacturing in the US, are setting up a new industry-focused committee to advocate for the sector and create a new ‘roadmap’ for development.
The Arizona Technology Council and the Arizona Optics Industry Association have signed a collaborative agreement to create the Arizona Optics Industry Committee. Its job will be to promote the sector, host events, and attempt to influence policymaking at local, state and federal levels.
“The committee will develop a roadmap for the optics industry sector in Arizona and use the council’s established leadership and infrastructure to address critical issues,” announced the organizations.
Home to the “Optics Valley” cluster, Arizona has long been recognized as a center of excellence for optics, thanks in large part to the influence of the world-renowned College of Optical Sciences - now in its 52nd year - at The University of Arizona in Tucson.
The college and its dean, Thomas Koch, are also key players in the high-profile AIM Photonics development program working to create an integrated photonics ecosystem across the US from its upstate New York headquarters.
Other well-known Arizona residents include the Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory, where huge mirrors are made for giant telescope projects, the world’s largest producer of thin-film solar cells and modules in the form of First Solar, Raytheon’s sensor division, and Spectra-Physics’ semiconductor laser center.
Catalyze, convene and connect
Bob Breault, president of the AOIA and founder of well-known optics software firm Breault Research Organization, said: “The council’s membership base is diverse, which, in the end, will benefit our members.
“The agreement we have reached is really the next step in our vision. We want industry leaders connected and working together on a mix of very diverse projects - all here in Arizona.”
Alex Rodriguez, vice president of the Arizona Technology Council’s Southern Arizona office, added: “Our goal is to catalyze, convene and connect the optics industry sector across Arizona, building on AOIA's long-term success.”
One of the key aims is to retain the graduates and postgraduates trained in optics and photonics at local institutions with jobs in nearby companies.
The 300-strong AOIA says that its members contribute approximately $2.2 billion per year to the Arizona economy. Of that total, the locally very strong astronomy industry is believed to contribute more than $250 million, and directly support 3300 jobs.