Europe’s photonics community is losing two high-profile members as both Michael Mertin, president of Photonics21, and Wolfgang Boch, head of the European Commission’s Photonics Unit, are relinquishing their official roles this year.
Boch, who has headed photonics activity at the EC since February 2014, retired in March.
Mertin, who remains CEO of Jenoptik, announced in May that he would not stand for re-election when his term as Photonics21 president ends in November.
In an interview with optics.org, Mertin said his two two-year terms as head of the European technology platform were at “an interesting time” for the photonics community.
During the past four years, Photonics21 established a functioning and growing Photonics Public-Private Partnership (PPP) structure, “defined extensive work programs, developed a strategic Horizon 2020 program in collaboration with the EU, and we have managed to raise the awareness of photonics as a key enabling technology for European industry,” he said.
Going forward, Mertin said he hoped Photonics21 would shift its focus from developing technological advantages to helping fortify Europe’s industrial sectors with innovative inventions and production of goods.
The photonics community in Europe should “encourage the new industries of tomorrow, like the photonics industry,” Mertin said, by nurturing a risk-taking business environment for photonics’ enabling role in the transformation of many industrial processes, products, and applications.
Mertin said he plans to remain on the Photonics21 Board of Stakeholders when his term ends.
Reflecting on his years with the photonics community, Boch also lauded the establishment of the PPP and suggested a stronger focus on industry for the future. He noted that three-quarters of the coordinators for the latest PPP-funded photonics projects were from research organizations, suggesting that most ideas were still technology-led rather than user- or market-led.
No successor for Boch’s position was announced by SPIE Professional press time in June. Ronan Burgess, a general chair of SPIE Photonics Europe who has been with the EC since 1997, is acting head.