EPIC to tackle industry 'pain points' in 2020

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Finding investors and recruiting skilled staff are two key areas the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC) will focus on this year, says Carlos Lee




The New Year brings new targets for EPIC. In 2020, we will put extra emphasis on helping our members hire talented people and find investors – two issues that are regularly brought up as pain points. 

To address the talent issue, we have launched a website that is the largest compilation worldwide of jobs in the field of photonics. There are more than 1,200 positions that need filling in 150 companies across 35 countries. The website has a search functionality based on keywords such as job title, company and city. The list is constantly maintained so that new jobs are regularly added and filled positions removed.

All listings are provided by members of EPIC, so applicants know that they are applying to recognised and trusted technology companies. If you are thinking about hiring a recruitment firm, please consider working with our partners and members, including: Orion Engineering, TMC, EO, Insight Technology Search and Profound Corporate Recruitment. You can find more details on the website: www.jobs-in-photonics.com 

On the investment side, we have started talking with investors and public authorities such as the European Investment Bank. EPIC stands for the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of the European photonics industry. Creating and growing successful companies is not sufficient – we should aim to ensure they remain in European ownership. With more than 100 photonics company acquisitions per year, there is a risk that non-European entities will buy our European jewels, possibly leaving a permanent negative impact similar to what happened to the semiconductor, LED, solar - and more recently - the robotics industry.

The photonics ecosystem will experience massive consolidation in the next decade. Most firms are young and small, and can be easily acquired, creating a vulnerable ecosystem. If Europe loses its photonics industry, it will also lose on digital sovereignty and key technologies for security and defence. EPIC is therefore working on establishing a fund that will be used to invest specifically in European photonics companies, support their successful growth, and leverage the synergy among the companies. Despite what is usually conveyed, I am convinced there is enough capital in Europe from business angels, high net-worth individuals, private family offices and corporate investors with experience in photonics hardware.

Public authorities such as the European Investment Bank should also provide funds to be leveraged with other sources of funding. Most investment-related events, and most funds, limit themselves to analysing and ranking companies – but what if, in addition, we helped these companies tackle their weaknesses and reach their full potential? I believe that the truly unique asset we have in Europe is the ability to mobilise hundreds of photonics industry veterans who happily commit their time to support and coach European photonics companies. 

I trust that focusing on these challenges in 2020 will increase chances of Europe remaining in the lead in photonics.