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Michigan launches 'Mi-Light' photonics cluster

15 Apr 2013

Grant and logistical support from local development corporation helps new industry group.

IPG Photonics, Fraunhofer USA and Advanced Photonix are among the members of a newly established photonics industry cluster in the US state of Michigan.

The organization, officially launched with its first annual meeting on April 10 and dubbed “Mi-Light”, has just elected its first board of directors. Michelle Stock from mIstock Consulting is the cluster’s inaugural chair, and in a statement she acknowledged the support of the local development corporation, which has provided $89,000 towards launch activities:

“We appreciate the foresight of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the state in in recognizing the important role that Michigan has to play in the global and rapidly expanding photonics industry,” said Stock. “Industry and educational organizations from across the entire state are participating in Mi-Light initiatives that will benefit many dimensions of the state economy.”

Mi-Light members
Among the educational establishments involved with Mi-Light are Baker College, Northwestern Michigan College, Grand Valley State University and the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility at the University of Michigan.

Other corporations to have joined as cluster members include L3 Communications’ “EOTech” division, one of the country’s leading providers of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) technologies to the defense sector and based in Ann Arbor.

X-ray analytical equipment firm Rigaku, imaging metrology company Coherix and diode laser specialist Visotek are also supporting the organization, although the well-known local photonics companies IMRA America and Rofin-Sinar do not feature among the current list of members on the Mi-Light web site.

IPG Photonics is represented on the inaugural Mi-Light board in the form of Michael Klos, general manager of the fiber laser firm’s Midwest operations in Novi. David Shindell from Data Optics was elected as vice-chair and acting treasurer, with Baker College’s Anca Sala as secretary.

Sheila Jensen from Visotek, Bodo Ehlers from Rigaku and Advanced Photonix CEO Richard Kurtz complete the inaugural board.

According to the Mi-Light web site, the new organization’s mission is to leverage the strong academic and industrial expertise available locally to expand industry, attract funding and stimulate innovation within the state, as well as supporting employee attraction and providing a mechanism for strategic partnering.

The emergence of the new cluster in Michigan comes as a committee puts the finishing touches to the plan for a proposed National Photonics Initiative (NPI) in the US, and as the fiscal 2014 Presidential budget earmarked $1 billion to aid the development of advanced manufacturing across 15 regional centers in the US.

LASEROPTIK GmbHABTechMad City Labs, Inc.Universe Kogaku America Inc.HÜBNER PhotonicsIridian Spectral TechnologiesCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.
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