Member News - January, 2013

Industry Member News

28 January, 2013

Industry News

Economic Outlook for 2013

An upcoming installment of the OIDA Photonics Market Report will review the global economy with a “top-down” view and what that means for photonics. Briefly, 2013 is likely to look a lot like 2012.

Global demand and trade are slowing, with political uncertainty and gridlock at the forefront in four major economies: Europe, U.S., Japan, and China. China’s economy is picking up again, but 7-8% annual growth is the new normal. That would be very hot growth in the U.S., but is relatively cool for China, which is trying to balance development and urban migration with overinvestment.

For the U.S., 2% annual growth is the new normal. That is modest, to be sure, but it’s not zero or negative. While it’s not a forecast of the photonics industry itself, it is a factor in many photonics segments, such as industrial sensors or manufacturing. 

The outlook in the U.S. looks relatively positive by comparison to Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. Those countries each saw strong growth in their photonics production in the last decade, driven by growth in LCD displays, LEDs, and solar cells and panels. Those segments are now saturating or in flux, leaving repercussions to their domestic photonics industries.

Government News

Update on Harnessing Light and the NPI

OIDA and several technical societies have been busy since September with a follow-up effort to the National Research Council’s Harnessing Light Committee report that was released in August. The report—Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation—called for a National Photonics Initiative, partnering industry, academia, and the government. The effort is being led by an inter-society advisory committee of volunteers and staff from OSA/OIDA, SPIE, IEEE Photonics Society, American Physical Society, and Laser Institute of America, and chaired by Tom Baer of Stanford University. The first 3 societies put up funds to help the effort. 

The follow-on so far includes 3 major thrusts, all very much “works in progress”:

  • A subcommittee to commission a study to collect data that helps define the size and impact of the photonics industry in the U.S. This subcommittee includes Tom Hausken (OIDA/OSA), Steve Anderson (SPIE), and David Mowery (Professor of Economics, UC Berkeley).
  • Forming working groups to extend the public policy recommendations in the report, add economic arguments and “success stories”, all with industry’s blessing. OIDA is leading the policy working group on communications, which includes individuals from several OIDA member companies.
  • Commissioning professional advocates (lobbyists) in Washington who can help win government funding for photonics.

It is important here to set expectations. First, it is not a good time to ask for anything in Washington. Besides the pressure on the budget, there are changes in staff, and draconian deadlines that threaten to scale back spending across the board. Just asking agencies to come together to discuss a national photonics initiative is a large undertaking. However, OIDA is already on this task, and the new initiative fits well with OIDA’s other advocacy efforts.

Second, the U.S. photonics community has no consensus on what a “national photonics initiative” should look like. Should it be ambitious, aiming for the kind of large program created by the European Commission and supported by Photonics 21? Or should it be more targeted and tactical, aiming for specific line items in agency budgets? What should the data collection include, and how much money should be spent for it? Keeping in mind that the “government,” “industry,” and each society are not monoliths, but have their own diverse interests, consensus requires patience.

The NRC Harnessing Light Committee set the bar high when it included all of photonics in its study, the 3rd on this topic since 1988. Photonics as a broad enabler is most relevant in basic R&D. As it is applied, its relevance narrows to specific vertical markets and mission-specific government agencies. For example, the NRC is currently completing a focused study on the success of the Department of Energy’s LED lighting program, called Assessment of Solid State Lighting. Such a study would be more likely to succeed, given its narrower focus. 

OIDA can use its role in the NPI effort to complement its other advocacy efforts, which target optical communications and other selected applications. 

The next milestone for the NPI is an event in Washington DC on February 28, hosted with the National Research Council. Please contact Tom Hausken or Laura Kolton if you have questions about the NPI and OIDA’s role in it.

OIDA Upcoming Events


Congressional Visits Day

Want a say in the upcoming FY 2013 budget process? Worried about the looming “sequester” and cuts to science? Looking for an opportunity to educate your member of Congress about the important work you are doing in their district? Participate in the annual Congressional Visits Day (CVD)! On March 12 and 13, OSA will be joining the Science, Engineering, and Technology Working Group to arrange meetings between OSA members and U.S. senators and representatives. 

These meetings give the scientific community a voice in the halls of Congress - calling on elected officials to recognize the importance of science and technology and continue to support research and education initiatives. OSA organizes all aspects of the visits, from scheduling individual appointments to providing participants with training, detailed background information and talking points. No previous experience is necessary and training will be provided.

Mark your calendars to join us in DC for this unique opportunity! For more information, visit OSA’s CVD webpage, or contact Sarah Cogan ( Sign-up information will be posted online soon, so check back often!

Future Needs of “Scale-Out” Data Centers Workshop 
Co-located with OFC/NFOEC 2013
17 March, 2013 – Anaheim, CA, USA

FREE Registration for all OIDA Members! Click here to register!

Not an OIDA member? We still hope to see you there! Register here!

Complimentary Program on Industrial Lasers 
Co-located with OSA’s Advanced Solid-State Lasers Congress
28 October, 2013 – Paris, France

FREE Registration for anyone interested! Simply register for the Advanced Solid-State Lasers Congress as an Exhibit Attendee.