Michigan Photonics Industry Sets Up Its Own Cluster

Michigan Photonics Industry Sets Up its own Cluster

16 April 2013

The state of Michigan is the home of a new industry group which is on a mission to backstop the local photonics sector by making use of academic and industrial expertise to foster its potential, Optics.org reports.

Among the priority tasks of the industry cluster, dubbed Mi-Light, are to ensure funding and promote innovation within Michigan. The group will also work to secure higher recruitment levels in the photonics industry and provide a mechanism to stimulate strategic partnerships.

Mi-Light has already been granted $89,000 from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to fund its activities. According to the group's inaugural chair, Michelle Stock from mIstock Consulting, the financial support provided by the development corporation underscores the state's ability to recognize the essential role Michigan can play in the global photonics industry.

Members of the newly-established cluster include IPG Photonics, Fraunhofer USA and Advanced Photonix, while Baker College, Northwestern Michigan College, Grand Valley State University and the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility at the University of Michigan are the educational institutions that have joined the initiative. L3 Communications' "EOTech" unit, one of the US top experts in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) technologies catering to the defense market, has also lent support to Mi-Light, as have X-ray analytical equipment specialist Rigaku, imaging metrology firm Coherix and diode laser smart laser tool maker Visotek.

The cluster's establishment will be favored by the soon-to-be-announced plan for launching a National Photonics Initiative (NPI) in the US, which will be aimed at bringing together academia, industry and government to steer federal research and activities. The group will also likely benefit from the hefty $1 billion sum allocated under the fiscal 2014 Presidential budget, which will go for supporting advanced manufacturing across 15 regional centres in the country.