Photonics21 and European Commission recognise importance of Photonics

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European Commission and Photonics21 have recognised the importance of photonics to European business and industry. Photonics21 has called for more research and innovation throughout Europe.

Emphasising the importance of an innovation-friendly marketplace as well as support for research, Neelie Kroes, the European Commission vice president responsible for the Digital Agenda, accepted the Photonics21 Vision document from Photonics21 president Martin Goetzler during the association's general assembly in Brussels on 24 February. 'I am convinced that research and innovation must be at the heart of new growth in Europe,' Kroes said in a speech to the assembly. 'I believe that photonics is a major opportunity for Europe.'

Photonics21 is a voluntary association founded in 2005, with the latest meeting sponsored by SPIE Europe. SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs complimented the work done by Photonics21 and the EC's Photonics Unit in having photonics named as one of only five key enabling technologies for Europe: 'The recognition of photonics both as a substantial market itself and as an enabling technology that is key to advanced manufacturing and substantial consumer markets brings focus and coherence to European efforts, both to continue a legacy of research leadership, but now also to turn that into economic benefit,' he said. 'The enabling aspect leverages the economic impact of photonics by a multiple of at least 20 of the actual photonics content. Photonics21 is putting Europe in a strong position to benefit from the "century of the photon."'

Kroes invited participants to be bold, and to work collaboratively and efficiently. She encouraged public-private partnerships and urged participants to be 'ambassadors' for more research and innovation in their respective countries. 'You can count on me to do my bit and to make sure photonics gets the support it needs,' she said. She promised to increase her involvement with young researchers and entrepreneurs.