"Ecology will be the economy of the 21st century, and the most energy-efficient company or region will be the most competitive," Matthias Machnig (above), Economy, Labor and Technology minister of Germany's leading optics region, told the audience of several hundred at the LASE plenary session, held on 25 January at SPIE Photonics West.
Machnig said that having an industrial strategy supported by regulations and standards has been vital to the success of Germany, and in particular his region of Thuringia. "We have all experienced the financial crisis," he said. Germany's experience -- coming out of the crisis successfully, with high growth and declining unemployment -- illustrates that economic balance is about real and sustainable productivity, he said.
Machnig noted that in his region 43% of industry costs go to energy and resources, creating both opportunity and need to create efficiencies by employing renewable energy sources.
Commenting on Photonics West, Machnig said the event is "impressive," and creates a vital link between the scientific research community and industry.