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Congresswoman Louise Slaughter

Representing the 25th District of New York

Slaughter: Rochester-led Consortium Wins $600 Million Manufacturing Innovation Institute

July 27, 2015
Press Release
Three-Year Effort by Slaughter Lands Greatest Local Job Creator in Decades, Rochester Investment to Advance Innovation and Job Growth

ROCHESTER, NY — After more than three years of advocacy, Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) announced that a Rochester-led national consortium has won a competition by the U.S. Department of Defense to headquarter an advanced manufacturing institute for photonics. The new institute – the American Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) Photonics – will be launched by federal, state, and industry investments that will exceed $600 million over the next five years. Rochester will serve as the consortium’s national headquarters.    

“I’ve never fought harder and couldn’t be more proud to bring this manufacturing institute to Rochester,” said Rep. Slaughter. “The innovations and jobs this institute will create will be a game changer for Rochester and the entire state. I’d like to thank the University of Rochester, RIT, Majority Leader Joe Morelle, Governor Cuomo, and industry leaders that partnered with me for more than three years to make this day a reality. This is a huge win that will shape our region’s economy for decades to come.”

For comprehensive background on photonics and Congresswoman Slaughter’s effort to bring a national photonics institute to Rochester, click here.


  • Rochester is home to the largest photonics cluster in the country.
  • More than three years ago, Slaughter began organizing local stakeholders at meetings in Rochester and in Washington, DC.
  • Slaughter led a national campaign to convince the Obama Administration to commit to a photonics-focused institute for manufacturing.
  • In October 2014, the Defense Department agreed to hold a competition to create the advanced manufacturing institute for photonics with a federal investment of $110 million.
  • In January 2015, the Rochester-led national consortium was chosen as one of three finalists for the Institute.
  • In April 2015, Slaughter announced that Governor Cuomo agreed – at her request – to back the consortium with a significant state investment.
  • Today, the Defense Department announced that the Rochester-led consortium was selected over two other finalists to win the $110 million federal award to create the manufacturing institute.
  • Federal, state, university, and industry investments will exceed $600 million over the next five years.

Slaughter’s work organizing and advocating for the federal photonics institute had already yielded a series of meaningful local victories for Rochester, including a $2.6 million Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator federal grant to assist the growth of the regional optics and photonics industry and a $500,000 federal grant to fund the development of the New York Photonics Manufacturing Initiative. The federal grants were awarded in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

Photonics, the use of light for applications as diverse as lasers and telecommunications, powers the internet and many other technologies we depend on today. Integrated photonics manufacturing has the potential to revolutionize the carrying capacity of internet networks and to transport information at far greater densities and much lower costs than can be attained today.


  • The new institute will be launched by federal, state, university and industry investments that will exceed $600 million over the next five years, including $110 million from the federal government.
  • With over $600 million in public and private commitments, the American Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) Photonics is expected to be the largest federal program of its kind to-date, reflecting the complexity of the technology, its importance to national security, and its revolutionary potential. The institute will become self-sustaining within five years.
  • AIM Photonics will bridge the gap between applied research and product development by investing in the next generation of integrated photonics and will encourage additional investment and production in the U.S. The institute will focus on developing an end-to-end photonics ecosystem in the U.S., including domestic foundry access, integrated design tools, automated packaging, assembly and test, and workforce development.
  • The Rochester investments will focus on building and operating an open-access photonic test, assembly and optical packaging facility.
  • Major state partners: New York, California, Massachusetts
  • Major academic partners:  University of Rochester, Rochester Institute for Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California Santa Barbara, University of Arizona, SUNY Poly
  • Major industrial partners: Corning, Intel, HP, IBM, GE, Cisco, Raytheon, United Technologies, Northrup Grumman, Honeywell, Seagate, Synopsys, and Infinera

"I want to thank Congresswoman Slaughter for her leadership and for championing an Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IMI) focused in photonics that would be headquartered here in Rochester,” said Joel Seligman, President and Chief Executive Officer for the University of Rochester. “Louise has been tireless in her advocacy and I am grateful for her efforts. This federal award recognizes our region’s leadership in optics, photonics, and imaging, the strong support of our local, state and federal elected officials and it promises to drive economic development in the Finger Lakes, in New York State and across the country. AIM Photonics will provide and empower the absolute best talent, sustainable relationships and infrastructure required to capture and sustain U.S. global leadership in this critical industry.”

“Creating a national manufacturing institute right here in Rochester is a major accomplishment and we thank Congresswoman Louise Slaughter for her advocacy and leadership on this effort,” said Dr. Bill Destler, President of Rochester Institute of Technology. “Rochester has long been an internationally recognized leader in imaging research and advanced manufacturing. Thanks to this award, our high-tech community will continue to innovate and create jobs for many years to come. This significant investment in our optics and photonics industries will ensure that Rochester continues to be a global leader in advanced manufacturing, and we thank Congresswoman Slaughter for making this game-changing project a reality.”

“Congresswoman Slaughter has worked tirelessly to lead New York’s bid to win the national photonics manufacturing institute,” said Tom Battley, Executive Director of New York Photonics. “Thanks to her efforts to build and advocate for our best-in-the-nation coalition of tech firms and educational institutions, this landmark announcement will transform Rochester and New York State’s advanced manufacturing industry while creating good-paying jobs.”

 “Siting the IP-IMI in Rochester takes advantage of the many regional strengths in optics, photonics, imaging and display technologies and highlights a century of optics and photonics innovations driven by collaborations among industry, academia and government,” said Elizabeth Rogan, CEO of The Optical Society. “The photonics community, including OSA and the National Photonics Initiative, played an important role in the development of the IP-IMI. We thank Representative Slaughter, for her leadership in this effort, along with the New York delegation and state government officials. The IP-IMI is an opportunity for the United States to strengthen its competitiveness, promote the technologies that significantly impact our daily lives – from computer screens and smart phones, to medical diagnostics and LED lighting – and discover new ways to harness the power of the light sciences. The Optical Society has a special connection to Rochester as the Society was founded by industry and academic partners there a century ago. We look forward to celebrating our centennial in 2016 and helping to promote these scientific discoveries and the photonics community.”

Beyond applications with telecommunications and the internet, integrated photonics can revolutionize medical technology – from the development of “needleless” technologies for monitoring diabetics’ blood sugar levels to tiny cameras smaller than pills that can travel within arteries. Integrated photonics are expected to bring the sequencing of human genomes rapidly down the cost curve. In national defense, the potential applications of integrated photonics range from improving battlefield imaging and dramatic advances in radar to improvements in high-speed signal processing and information computation.

Last October, after Slaughter’s pressure and advocacy resulted in President Obama declaring the intent to create the Integrated Photonics-Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IP-IMI), DoD’s acting director of manufacturing and industrial base policy Andre Gudger said, “Our U.S. industrial base serves at least two major national security objectives. It is the engine that drives our economy and it equips our soldiers, sailors, and airmen. So it's critically important that we maintain our technological advantage within the U.S. industrial base and these institutes help us maintain that competitiveness in important technology areas, such as integrated photonics.”

“Our strategy is for all these institutes to be of great value to not only the Department of Defense, but to other federal agencies, industry, and the nation as a whole,” explained Adele Ratcliff, director of manufacturing technology in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy, who visited Rochester with Rep. Slaughter in May, 2014.

Click here to read a bipartisan letter of support for the application written by Congresswoman Slaughter and signed by more than 30 of her colleagues. Click here to read the full endorsement letter from the New York State Department of Economic Development.



Here is an extensive timeline of Congresswoman’s Slaughter’s work to bring the photonics institute and related investments 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).

October, 2012

Slaughter announces a $2.6 million Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator (AMJIA) federal grant to assist the growth of the regional optics industry.

February, 2013

Slaughter reconvenes industry and academic leaders to continue collaborative approach on advanced manufacturing grant.

June, 2013

Slaughter secures increase in funding for U of R Laser Lab.

September, 2013

Slaughter addresses Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster annual meeting, receives award for supporting industry.

October, 2013

Slaughter returns to Exelis to celebrate UR Laser Lab, QED and Exelis collaboration on locally made advanced polishing machine.

October, 2013

Slaughter’s Op-Ed in support of local optics industry appears in The Hill.

February, 2014

Slaughter delivers keynote address to Optical Society of America.

March, 2014

Slaughter sends letter to President Obama advocating for a manufacturing institute for optics and photonics in Rochester.

May, 2014

Slaughter secures AmTech grant to fund development of New York Photonics Manufacturing Initiative.

May, 2014

Slaughter leads second letter to President Obama advocating for a manufacturing institute for optics and photonics in Rochester.

May, 2014

Slaughter brings senior Defense Department leaders to Rochester to showcase local optics and photonics capabilities.

May, 2014

Slaughter helps secure Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership for Rochester, giving region access to $1.3 billion in federal funds to develop OPID industry and create jobs.

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.

July, 2014

Slaughter announces $2 million award for OLEDWorks for development of high quality organic light emitting diode products.

September, 2014

Slaughter delivers keynote address to Rochester Regional Photonics Institute, focuses on securing National Manufacturing Institute.

September, 2014

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.

October, 2014

Obama Administration commits to creating an Institute for Manufacturing Innovation dedicated to photonics; Rep. Slaughter begins organizing Rochester’s application.

October, 2014

Slaughter brings U.S. Army Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard Kidd to Rochester to tour local optics and photonics manufacturers.

November, 2014

Slaughter convenes high-level meeting with industry, academic, and political stakeholders to begin writing application for the institute.

December, 2014

Slaughter writes letter to Governor Cuomo asking for a $250 million investment in the local photonics industry to create jobs and leverage a federal investment.

January, 2015

Slaughter announces Rochester named one of three finalists to compete for the institute.

April, 2015

Slaughter secures $250 million in state funding commitment for Rochester-based manufacturing institute

April, 2015

Slaughter leads a bipartisan group of lawmakers in writing to the Secretary of Defense in support of the Rochester-led application for the photonics institute

July, 2015

Slaughter announces Rochester-led consortium wins federal backing to create AIM Photonics