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Industry Advocacy

Optica encourages its members to stay informed and get involved in of science policy.

As the leading association in optics and photonics, Optica advocates for its members and the community within Optica's global policy and affairs effort. 

Several public policy issues consistently rise to the top of Optica member priorities:

Increased funding for optics and photonics R&D, training and education.

Public funding of fundamental and other pre-competitive research in optics and photonics is essential for the development of new products and solutions, and for a continued supply of a trained workforce for the industry.  However, public funding of optics and photonics R&D is continually threatened by tight budgets and priorities that shift funding toward other R&D topics.  And, optics and photonics companies are facing a shortage of workers trained in optics and STEM subjects across all levels, from optical technicians to PhDs.

Commerce-friendly trade and export regulation.

Optics and photonics companies participate in global supply chains, and many optics and photonics companies are themselves spread across continents.  Fair and sensible trade policies and export regulations strike the balance between national interests and the benefits and realities of global free trade.  Trade policies should include the protection of intellectual property, to nurture a thriving marketplace.

Support for SMEs.

Support is especially important for small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) that lack the resources and financing to invest in large scale projects.  SMEs also face disproportionately higher costs to comply with certain policies, such as export regulations, and have a smaller voice in the policymaking process.

Support for the manufacturing ecosystem. 

Optica Corporate Engagement supports initiatives aimed at filling gaps in the manufacture of innovative optics and photonics products.  The capital investment for some advanced technologies are prohibitive for small businesses, particularly during product development when manufacturing volumes are small.  Examples of pilot lines and multi-user services that help bridge these gaps include PIXAPP and JePPIX in Europe, and AIM Photonics Institute and BRIDG in the U.S.

Infrastructure funding that accelerates the adoption of innovative optics and photonics technologies. 

Many promising technologies are market-ready but lack a well-financed “champion” to launch the market.  Government policies and procurements from large customers can launch technologies by creating demand for products with unified technical specifications.  Past examples have included Telcordia qualification requirements for telecom products, U.S. milspec standards, and mandates for safety features in automobiles.  Future opportunities could fiber optic sensors for security and monitoring in smart structures, and optics-based environmental monitors, to name just two examples.

Optica and its members also advocate for other policies, such as: adoption of fair and transparent travel and work visa policies, assuring sustainable access to strategic optical materials, and reform of R&D tax policies.   

Optica builds relationships with policymakers and keep policymakers informed about the importance and value of optics and photonics in their communities.  We engage with members and work to build coalitions on specific topics that are brought to our attention.  Optica's volunteers and professional staff provide testimony to lawmakers, and serve on advisory committees.  Optica helps fund engineers and scientists in policymaking positions through the annual awards of U.S. Congressional Fellowships.  It recognizes policymakers through Optica's annual Advocate of Optics recognition.  And, Optica disseminates information to members about key policy issues and events and relevant grant opportunities. 

Optica also supports the advocacy conducted through its memberships and partnerships with coalitions such as the International Day of Light, World Science Day, U.S. Science and Engineering Festival, the U.S. National Photonics Initiative, Photonics21, and the International Photonics Advocacy Coalition (IPAC).  And, Optica provides advocacy support to other national photonics trade associations, local and regional photonics industry clusters, and Optica chapters and sections. 

How to get involved

Effective science and technology policy requires input from our members and community.  Optica offers many advocacy opportunities to advance public policy from the local to the national and international levels.  Getting involved is easy and can range from sending emails to U.S. policymakers to visiting Washington DC or your country’s science ministry. 

One of the most valuable ways is to meet face to face with policymakers and their staff.  This involves sharing stories of job creation and other benefits to the community, and ways that public policies affect optics and photonics companies.  Optica can help members to set up visits between members and policymakers on relevant issues and solutions, or to invite policymakers to make site visits to company facilities.

National Photonics Initiative

In 2012, the US National Research Council released a report calling for a National Photonics Initiative (NPI) -- a partnership between government, academia and industry to focus attention and funding on photonics research and development.

Heeding the call, Optica and four society partners brought together more than 100 experts to assemble recommendations to help guide US funding and investment in five key photonics-driven fields. New opportunities in these fields offer the potential for great societal impact in the next few decades.

Sign-up for NPI updates on R&D funding news.


For more information on Optica's global policy and affairs’s efforts and how to get involved, please contact

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