Rochester, NY Lands Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Innovation Hub

Vice President Joe Biden officially announced New York’s Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Integrated Photonics on July 27. Credit: Department of Defense

The Research Foundation for the State University of New York (RF SUNY) will lead a new Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IP-IMI) to secure U.S. leadership in manufacturing integrated photonics. The IP-IMI is the sixth of nine such public-private partnerships to boost advanced manufacturing, foster American innovation, and attract and create jobs.

The Department of Defense is awarding the IP-IMI to a consortium of 124 companies, nonprofits, and universities led by RF SUNY. With a total investment of over $610 million—$110 million in federal funds, and more than $500 million in non-federal contributions—the announcement marks the largest public-private commitment to date for a manufacturing institute launched in the U.S. SUNY Polytechnic Institute was joined by University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology and a regional cluster of photonics businesses to submit the proposal that was selected from among three finalists.

Photonics generates, controls and detects light to advance robotics, manufacturing, medical imaging, next-generation displays, defense technologies, biometric security, image processing, communications, astronomy and much more. Integrated photonics circuits incorporate multiple miniature optical structures to manipulate and control beams of light, in the same way that integrated electronic circuits control electrons, in order to encode, transmit and decode information. A major goal for the IP-IMI will be to develop low-cost, high volume, manufacturing methods to interface electronic integrated circuits with integrated photonic devices.

Headquartered in Rochester, NY, the long-time home of optical technology pioneer Eastman Kodak, the institute will help spark new growth in manufacturing building on the area’s legacy of leading optical and photonics technology capabilities—and position the U.S. for continued leadership in this critical technology area. Harris Corporation, Sydor Optics, and Optimax have all recently opened or expanded operations in the region.

“Photonics technologies in advanced manufacturing have been a key component in the revitalization of U.S. manufacturing, especially in the automotive and aerospace industries,” said Elizabeth Rogan, CEO of The Optical Society, which is a member of the RF SUNY team. “The Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation highlights the economic impact of optics and photonics and will strengthen our global competitiveness. We congratulate the New York consortium, and we look forward to working with the new IP-IMI team, as well as continuing our support and affiliation with the finalists.”

“Today is a great day for the U.S. photonics industry, and we congratulate the New York consortium on this win,” said Alan Willner, Steering Committee Chairman, National Photonics Initiative (NPI). “While other countries have heavily invested in advancing their optics and photonics industries, the United States’ lead in this cutting-edge technology has dwindled. Establishing an IP-IMI in New York is a step in the right direction for our industry and will strengthen our country’s position as the world leader in transitioning photonics research to commercial markets.”

The IP-IMI is part of the National Network of Manufacturing Institutes (NNMI). Each institute is part of a growing network dedicated to securing U.S. leadership in the emerging technologies required to win the next generation of advanced manufacturing, and brings together companies, universities, other academic and training institutions, and Federal agencies to co-invest in key emerging technology areas that can encourage investment and production in the U.S.