After Two Year Push, Slaughter Secures Massive Investment by Obama Administration in Photonics Manufacturing Institute
ROCHESTER, NY – After over two years of organization, advocacy, and pressure, Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) announced a significant federal commitment that will invest in the nation’s photonics industry and has the potential to boost the local economy and create jobs. President Obama announced today that the Department of Defense will take the lead in the creation of an Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute. The federal investment will be matched by at least one-to-one by industry, for a total investment of more than $200 million. Rochester will compete for a leading role in the institute, but the region already has an advantage thanks to existing advanced manufacturing infrastructure like Eastman Business Park; research facilities focused on optics and photonics; a workforce that is highly trained in advanced manufacturing; and over two years of relentless advocacy by Rep. Slaughter and local partners.
“Rochester is the world capital of optics and photonics, and that’s why I’ve been fighting like heck for over two years to get this investment,” Rep. Slaughter said. “What the world wants most in optics and photonics is already being developed right here in Rochester. We’ve got the manufacturing facilities, the research institutions, the highly-skilled workforce, and now we have the public-private investment opportunity that we need to get this industry to the next level. This manufacturing institute will have a transformative impact on our local economy that will help support the thousands of jobs we already have in this industry, and potentially bring many more to Rochester. Our region has been leading the world in optics and photonics for decades, which is why we’re going to pursue this competition aggressively.”
Photonics was chosen from among six technology areas: photonics, flexible hybrid electronics, engineered nanomaterials, fiber and textiles, electronic packaging and reliability, and aerospace composites. Today’s announcement comes on the heels of two years of exciting momentum in the photonics sector for the Rochester region. In 2012, Rep. Slaughter announced a $1.9 million Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator federal grant to assist the growth of the regional optics and photonics industry. The region recently secured the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership designation to gain priority access to more than a billion dollars in grants and earlier this year, the congresswoman delivered on an effort to bring in a $500,000 federal grant to fund the development of the New York Photonics Manufacturing Initiative.
The new Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute will be focused on integrated photonics manufacturing, a field that impacts a wide range of industries. Integrated photonics manufacturing has the potential to revolutionize the carrying capacity of internet networks to transmit more data at faster speeds; enhance medical technology; reduce the cost of sequencing the human genome; and improve battlefield imaging and radar capabilities for national defense.The administration’s announcement will be followed by a formal competition for the institute that will result in an award to a winning consortium. That group will be responsible for building the Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute. Similar institutes have had dozens of core partners throughout the country that receive investments. Earlier this year, RIT was named a core partner in the Chicago-based Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute and is slated for an investment of up to $20 million.
"I want to thank President Obama for his leadership in revitalizing our manufacturing sector and recognize Congresswoman Slaughter for championing an effort to create an Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IMI) focused on photonics,” said Rob Clark, Senior Vice President for Research and Dean of the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, University of Rochester. “As home to the oldest and largest hubs for photonics manufacturing in the U.S., this region is uniquely positioned to lead a winning consortium that will advance technologies important to national security and make manufacturers more globally competitive. From our Institute of Optics to our Laboratory for Laser Energetics, the University of Rochester is a world leader in advancing the optics and photonics industry and fueling a highly skilled workforce in these fields. With today’s announcement, our photonics industry is poised for innovation and growth.”
“Two years ago, when Congresswoman Slaughter and representatives from industry and academia put together a plan to advance photonics in our area, we were working toward a common goal: a major federal investment in the photonics industry through an institute for manufacturing innovation,” said John Bruning, retired President and CEO of Corning Tropel Corp. “This is an historic opportunity and under the leadership of Representative Slaughter and our local partners, and I am confident that we will be able to deliver for Rochester and the 17,000 employees in the area who work in the optics and photonics fields.”
“Last year, when Rep. Slaughter helped us secure a $2 million investment for our optics polishing machine, we saw how her leadership can potentially have a direct impact on our company’s manufacturing capacity,” said Mike O’Brien, Director of Extended Enterprise at Exelis. “As a growing business in Rochester’s optics and photonics industry, this institute could be a real game changer for our company, and we look forward to showing the country why our area should have a leading role in this new institute.”
“When it comes to advocating for local manufacturers working on optics and photonics, Louise has been our champion,” said Tom Battley, Executive Director of Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster & New York Photonics. “Working hand-in-hand with our universities and local businesses, Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster and New York Photonics has been a proud partner of the congresswoman in the effort to create this opportunity.”
“Today’s announcement underscores the critical role photonics plays in U.S. manufacturing,” said Elizabeth Rogan, CEO of The Optical Society (OSA), a leading national optics and photonics professional association. “We thank Rep. Slaughter for her effective government leadership on obtaining these key investments. She's a champion for photonics and for the Rochester area.”
Here is an extensive timeline of Congresswoman’s Slaughter’s work to bring an optics and photonics institute to Rochester:
June, 2012- Slaughter convenes industry and academic leaders to establish Rochester Regional Optics, Photonics and Imaging Accelerator, Advocate for Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge (AMJIAC)
February, 2013- Slaughter reconvenes industry and academic leaders to continue collaborative approach on advanced manufacturing grant.
June, 2014 - Department of Defense (DoD) releases a Request For Information (RFI), giving local and national stakeholders the opportunity to formally make the case for a federal investment in an optics and photonics manufacturing institute.
September, 2014 – Rep. Slaughter sends a letter to Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense to make the case for Rochester as a location for a Manufacturing Institute in Optics, Photonics and Imaging.