SPIE Invests in Photonics Advocacy

Report on SPIE annual meeting 2015.

01 October 2015

SPIE ’s leading role in and support of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL) and the US National Photonics Initiative (NPI) were the major achievements highlighted at the Society’s annual general meeting in August.

Reports by SPIE President Toyohiko Yatagai, Secretary/Treasurer Gary Spiegel, and CEO Eugene Arthurs showed that SPIE spent some $4 million on altruistic activities for the photonics community in 2014 and is expected to expend $5.2 million in 2015.

Careful financial stewardship allowed SPIE to reach its financial goals in 2014, including the disbursing of 10% of its annual operating revenues on mission-related altruistic activities such as the NPI and IYL, they said.

SPIE has been a founding partner/sponsor in both the IYL and the NPI, which have been highly successful in raising public awareness of the importance of optics and photonics in our everyday lives.

The NPI is a collaborative alliance established in 2013 to increase cooperation and coordination among US industry, government, and academia to drive US funding and investment in photonics. A newly funded American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics is the NPI’s most recent success, with SPIE and 123 other partners comprising a consortium to create the photonics hub.

The IYL has been similarly successful, with planning and outreach efforts occurring for several years leading up to the 2015 celebration. SPIE contributed to numerous major events, displays, and articles in 2014 and 2015 that showcase how optics and photonics technologies provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, agriculture, communications, and sustainable development.

Yatagai attended numerous IYL celebrations this year, including the opening ceremonies at UNESCO headquarters in Paris in January and several in Japan where he is the national IYL coordinator. Closing ceremonies will be held in Mexico in February 2016.


Yatagai also announced the results of the 2015 election at the annual business meeting in San Diego, CA, where other highlights from SPIE operations in 2014 were reported.

photo from SPIE Annual General Meeting 

Spiegel reported on the “strong and stable” financial status of the Society that has enabled SPIE to maintain 18 months of operating reserves while still meeting the ongoing commitment to support the photonics community through altruistic programs. Spiegel said total assets surpassed $100 million in 2014, and net assets approached $80 million.

Total revenue for 2014, including investments, was $42 million, he said, with operating revenue accounting for $38 million.

Even with $4 million for altruistic activities taken from operating funds in 2014, the Society had a $2.1 million operating surplus and an overall surplus of $4.9 million.

Spiegel also noted that SPIE investments performed well in a long-lasting bull market in 2014, growing by over $5.2 million to close the year at $86.3 million.

In his report, Arthurs gave an overview of SPIE events, publications, courses, and membership trends in 2014 and noted that SPIE is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2015.

SPIE priorities for public policy activities in 2014 included support for Photonics21, the European technology coalition, as well as the NPI in the United States, he said. SPIE also focused on photonics advocacy regarding US limits on government employee travel to scientific conferences and proposed rules on technology exports, both of which have been major concerns for the photonics community, he said.

Other highlights from the 2014 annual report to members:
  • 17 events organized in 2014, including biennial conferences such as SPIE Photonics Europe, Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation, Photonics Asia, and Asia Pacific Remote Sensing.
  • 361 proceedings volumes and 16,232 new proceedings papers published in the SPIE Digital Library.
  • Event attendance increased by 4.7% over 2013, for a total of 39,058.
  • 3 new journals launched.
  • 346 new articles and 101 new videos posted to the SPIE Newsroom

The next SPIE annual meeting will be 30 August 2016, at SPIE Optics + Photonics in San Diego, CA.

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