As the oldest and most recognized trade association in optics and photonics, OIDA advocates for its members and the community within OSA’s government relations effort. Several public policy issues consistently rise to the top of OIDA member priorities:
- Increased funding for optics and photonics R&D, training and education. Public funding of fundamental and other pre-competitive research in optics and photonics is essential for the development of new products and solutions, and for a continued supply of a trained workforce for the industry. However, public funding of optics and photonics R&D is continually threatened by tight budgets and priorities that shift funding toward other R&D topics. And, optics and photonics companies are facing a shortage of workers trained in optics and STEM subjects across all levels, from optical technicians to PhDs.
- Commerce-friendly trade and export regulation. Optics and photonics companies participate in global supply chains, and many optics and photonics companies are themselves spread across continents. Fair and sensible trade policies and export regulations strike the balance between national interests and the benefits and realities of global free trade. Trade policies should include the protection of intellectual property, to nurture a thriving marketplace.
- Support for SMEs. Support is especially important for small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) that lack the resources and financing to invest in large scale projects. SMEs also face disproportionately higher costs to comply with certain policies, such as export regulations, and have a smaller voice in the policymaking process.
- Support for the manufacturing ecosystem. OIDA supports initiatives aimed at filling gaps in the manufacture of innovative optics and photonics products. The capital investment for some advanced technologies are prohibitive for small businesses, particularly during product development when manufacturing volumes are small. Examples of pilot lines and multi-user services that help bridge these gaps include PIXAPP and JePPIX in Europe, and AIM Photonics Institute and BRIDG in the U.S.
- Infrastructure funding that accelerates the adoption of innovative optics and photonics technologies. Many promising technologies are market-ready but lack a well-financed “champion” to launch the market. Government policies and procurements from large customers can launch technologies by creating demand for products with unified technical specifications. Past examples have included Telcordia qualification requirements for telecom products, U.S. milspec standards, and mandates for safety features in automobiles. Future opportunities could fiber optic sensors for security and monitoring in smart structures, and optics-based environmental monitors, to name just two examples.