SECPhO initiatives identified at inaugural meeting

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The inaugural meeting of the Southern European Cluster in Photonics and Optics (SECPhO) has taken place in Terrassa, Spain on 16 December, with around 100 delegates and 30 companies exhibiting. The cluster, founded in April 2009 and operational since September 2009, aims to improve the competitiveness of the optics and photonics sector in Spain and southern Europe. Members include nearly 40 research institutes and companies that are involved in optics and photonics.

'The main goal [of SECPhO] is to increase the competitiveness of optics companies in Spain,' commented Andres Cifuentes, manager of SECPhO. Speaking with Electro Optics, Cifuentes said the association itself is just a means to bring companies together to improve strategies and research, and better direct commercial efforts. This will be achieved through networking and, most of all, through establishing a trustful relationship between all the players in the optics and photonics industry in Spain. 'Our goal is very strategic and commercially orientated to improve competitiveness and improve turnover in general,' he said.

The meeting, which Cifuentes noted was very positive, will initially be held annually, but it is only one part of achieving SECPhO's goals. Cifuentes stated that one of the other aspects is to have an international presence at trade shows allowing small and large companies to participate through the cluster. The Spanish photonics sector involves 114 enterprises employing approximately 7,500 people, with total revenues of €1.4bn.

The cluster has already fostered one project among three institutions, two companies and one research centre, all SECPhO members. The project is high-tech, but market oriented and has been granted government funding. In addition, The Spanish Technological Capabilities Map, a joint initiative between SECPhO and the Spanish Photonics Technology Platform, Fotónica21, has been launched, which is a catalogue for those interested in the optics and photonics sector in Spain.

SECPhO has 10 founding members and is supported by the Catalonian government, the Spanish Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade, and the City of Terrassa. The cluster also has support from SPIE, and SPIE board member, Marta de la Fuente of Indra Sistemas, is a founding member and sits on the cluster's strategic committee.

Commenting on the launch of the cluster, SPIE's CEO Eugene Arthurs said: 'Photonics clusters help strengthen their regional economies through improving productivity and encouraging innovation within their regions. This in turn helps stimulate advancements in photonics applications around the world that solve problems in energy production, healthcare, and other important areas. SPIE is happy to see SECPhO join the world's photonics cluster community, and we look forward to seeing the progress that will result from this network.'