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Photonics Firm's Restructure Plans IIlustrate Challenge of Maintaining Technology Strength

Date Announced: 27 Jul 2010

Decision by UK company Qinetiq to cut photonics-related operations prompts letter to senior UK politicians from SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs.

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- Plans announced recently by QinetiQ to make program and job cuts in operations at its Malvern (UK) facility have prompted members of the international optics and photonics community to urge an alternative solution that continues the work being done there.

SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs is among those promoting continuation of the Malvern facility's work. Arthurs said the Malvern issue also serves as an illustration of the challenge many countries face in sustaining technological advancement, a vital element in ensuring economic strength.

In a letter to UK MPs David Willetts and Vincent Cable posted 22 July, Arthurs said he shared the widely held high regard for work done by Malvern scientists and engineers for their contributions to technology, and recognized the economic and strategic value represented by the group's capability.

"The knowledge base that has been built up through the work of various teams at Malvern represents a key component underpinning the UK's future potential in electronic and optical technologies with growing market potential The value is easily destroyed and so difficult to build that it deserves to be described as irreplaceable," he said.

Further, he said, "The problem that needs to be solved is a problem not unique to the UK but shared by many of the developed economies around the world: how to convert pre-eminence in science and technology into continuing economic growth."

As an example for possible solutions, Arthurs said that the institution of technology innovation centers of excellence is one method used in a few countries to realize economic benefit for science and technology, while also driving excellence in the science with closely coupled feedback.

Resources addressing the issue include:

• Eugene Arthurs' letter on the QinetiQ announcement (PDF)
"Current and Future Role of Technology and Innovation Centres in the UK," authored by Hermann Hauser for Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State, Department for Business Innovation and Skills (PDF)
"The Atlantic Century: Benchmarking EU and U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness," authored for the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and the European-American Business Council (PDF)
"Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future," authored for the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine of the National Academies by a team led by Norman Augustine (PDF).

Source: SPIE

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