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Lasers & Sources

Michael Mertin: Photonics21 is a different kind of job

Michael Mertin, recently elected president of European Technology Platform Photonics21, talked to SPIE Newsroom at SPIE Photonics West about the duties of his new post. Of course, Mertin already leads the successful laser company Jenoptik AG.

While Mertin's experience as Jenoptik CEO will be most valuable, he maintains that his primary role will be that of ambassador for photonics, to synthesize the interests of all members of the organization and present them to the European Commission.

"My role as the president is to transform these ideas in the language of the commission," he says, and "to set the directions for the support of the money the commission is spending for innovation."

He also sees a need to raise awareness of the pervasive influence of photonics in society. Until the public understands this, he says, funding for research will always be in jeopardy.

"Our industry is one of the most innovative industries, supporting the production technologies and the products of tomorrow," he says.

The Board of Stakeholders of Photonics21 elected Mertin the new President of the organization in November 2012, representing the European photonics community in the fields of optical technologies. Mertin took over the position from departing President Martin Goetzeler of Osram AG.

The new president studied physics at the University of Aachen (RWTH Aachen), and gained his PhD in Engineering at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology. He will lead Photonics21 during the decisive phase when Europe's Research and Innovation policy transitions in to the new European Framework Program "Horizon 2020". Photonics, having been designated one of the EU Commission's five Key Enabling Technologies, will play a major role in Horizon 2020, resulting in significant industrial growth and new jobs.

Mertin will speak on "The Future of Photonics in Europe" at the upcoming Photonics21 annual meeting (29-30 April 2013 in Brussels, Belgium).

Additional talks will include a keynote speech by European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes, and an update on "Photonics in Horizon 2020" by Khalil Rouhana, Director DG Connect, European Commission. (DG Connect is the European Commission Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology.)