Roughly 300 people attended the event entitled “Rochester’s Photonics Future” Friday morning.
Part of the Rochester Business Journal’s Power Breakfast Series, the event was held at the Radisson Rochester Riverside Hotel.
Attendees learned about Rochester’s role in the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics, a $600 million manufacturing consortium that will focus on the design, manufacture, testing, assembly and packaging of integrated photonics.
Other topics discussed included the need for workers in the optics and photonics fields, and the variety of industries where local optics and photonics firms do business, from defense to medical and automotive.
The panel discussion included:
• Paul Ballentine, executive director of the University of Rochester’s Center for Emerging and Innovative Sciences;
• Tom Battley, executive director of New York Photonics;
• Rick Plympton, CEO of Optimax Systems Inc.;
• Alexis Vogt, endowed chair and associate professor of optics at Monroe Community College, and
• Ed White, corporate outreach executive, AIM Photonics.
There are roughly 120 optics, photonics and imaging companies in the Rochester area that employ some 17,000 people and generate over $3 billion in annual sales.
“We are not a small blip on the Rochester scene,” Battley said.
The companies, coupled with the AIM initiative, a light and sound interactive conference slated for this fall and area colleges’ commitment to train more people in the industry are all ways to help grow the industry, the panelists agreed.
But they also believed more needs to be done to get the word out about the impact photonics and its related fields have on the region.
“If the whole town decided to act like a photonics industry economic development organization, there’s no limit to what we can do,” Battley said.
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