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Optical Design & Engineering

‘Ecstatic’ SPIE joins fellow NPI members in applauding passage of R&D bill

SPIE Newsroom
16 December 2016

News of passage by both houses of Congress of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act was received with enthusiasm today by leaders of SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. The legislation supports continuation of important basic research, technology innovation, and science education programs, and asserts the importance of optics and photonics.

“We are ecstatic,” said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. “Our members and constituents have been working hard in support of this legislation since the first America COMPETES Act was passed in 2007. Importantly, for both our industry and for innovation capabilities, the bill includes wording emphasizing the importance of optics and photonics.”

The National Photonics Initiative (NPI), an alliance of top scientific societies including SPIE and uniting industry and academia to raise awareness of photonics, released a statement today in praise of the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of the measure by unanimous consent, and passage by unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate earlier this month.

The bill now awaits President Obama’s signature.

“We appreciate Congress recognizing the important role of optics and photonics in the US economy, specifically for commercialization, innovation and technology transfer," said Jim McNally, SPIE Engineering, Science, and Technology Policy committee chair.

"The optics and photonics industries make vital contributions to national security, US economic competitiveness, and medical care advances among many others. This Act provides for preparing the American workforce in the physical sciences and engineering to ensure that the next-generation technology is developed in the US, and will lead to the creation of new, high-value jobs, and improvements in the quality of life across the globe,” McNally said.

The American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084) notes that optics and photonics research and technologies promote United States global competitiveness in industry sectors, including telecommunications and information technology, energy, healthcare and medicine, manufacturing, and defense. It includes a provision that calls on federal science agencies, industry, and academia to seek partnerships to develop basic research in optics and photonics into more mature technologies and capabilities.

“Strong bonds between industry and research universities are key to effectively applying the promise of science to the implementation of real-world solutions,” Arthurs added. "Our community of optics and photonics researchers and engineers collaborate to develop new light-based technologies to detect and treat conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and epilepsy. They conceptualized and built the internet and are working on integrated photonics technologies for the next generation of computing, with improved cybersecurity. They are developing sustainable energy sources, more efficient lighting, and other technologies to meet the word's growing energy needs."