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European Photonics Firms Make Research Cash Plea

Members of a European industry group say that urgent action must be taken to ensure that the region remains competitive in the photonics sector.

Representatives from several III-V companies based in Europe are calling for an increase in photonics research funding in the region.

According to the Photonics 21 group, which includes Aixtron, Bookham and Jenoptik among its key members, a lack of investment in research and development could hamper Europe's competitive edge in photonics and risk job losses.

What is required, says Jenoptik managing director Alexander von Witzleben, is a more structured collaboration between European industry, researchers, funding agencies and the European Union.

"Members of Photonics21 particularly see a need for a more structured approach and concerted action," said von Witzleben at the Photonics Europe trade show taking place in Strasbourg this week. "Europe should not compromise its head-start in the field of photonics."

According to von Witzleben, the approach to funding photonics research in the US and Asia is far superior, both in terms of the sheer cash that is available and the more structured approach: "The US and Asia spend four times as much as Europe on research and development in photonics," he said.

"Europe cannot afford to continue operating on a fragmented national basis, but instead needs to establish a common platform...under which it can compete successfully in tomorrow's markets," von Witzleben added.

Issuing its strategic research agenda to EU commissioner Viviane Reding in Strasbourg, the Photonics21 group recommended two key actions: higher European and national expenditure on research; and a pan-European strategy.

The Photonics21 members also revealed that they plan to increase their own research spending by €330 million ($405 million) per year. Now, they are calling for a doubling in funding from national programs over the next five years.

Other III-V involvement in the Photonics21 group comes from Finland-based Modulight, Osram Opto Semiconductors, Philips Lighting, Umicore, Eblana Photonics and the Alcatel-Thales III-V laboratory in France.

Bernd Schulte from Aixtron and Giorgio Anania from Bookham act on the Photonics21 executive board.

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