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Photonics firm's restructure plans illustrate challenge of maintaining technology strength

26 July 2010

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- Plans announced recently by QinetiQ to make program and job cuts in operations at its Malvern (UK) facility have prompted members of the international optics and photonics community to urge an alternative solution that continues the work being done there. SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs is among those promoting continuation of the Malvern facility's work. Arthurs said the Malvern issue also serves as an illustration of the challenge many countries face in sustaining technological advancement, a vital element in ensuring economic strength.

In a letter to UK MPs David Willetts and Vincent Cable posted 22 July, Arthurs said he shared the widely held high regard for work done by Malvern scientists and engineers for their contributions to technology, and recognized the economic and strategic value represented by the group's capability.

"The knowledge base that has been built up through the work of various teams at Malvern represents a key component underpinning the UK's future potential in electronic and optical technologies with growing market potential The value is easily destroyed and so difficult to build that it deserves to be described as irreplaceable," he said.

Further, he said, "The problem that needs to be solved is a problem not unique to the UK but shared by many of the developed economies around the world: how to convert pre-eminence in science and technology into continuing economic growth."

As an example for possible solutions, Arthurs said that the institution of technology innovation centers of excellence is one method used in a few countries to realize economic benefit for science and technology, while also driving excellence in the science with closely coupled feedback.

Resources addressing the issue include:

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, was founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 180,000 constituents from 168 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent, and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions, and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific, and supports scholarships, grants, and other education programs around the world.

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