As the leading 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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
OIDA and its members also advocate for other policies, such as: adoption of fair and transparent travel and work visa policies, assuring sustainable access to strategic optical materials, and reform of R&D tax policies. OIDA advocates for its members and the community through the OSA government relations effort and the OSA public policy platform.
OIDA and OSA build relationships with policymakers and keep policymakers informed about the importance and value of optics and photonics in their communities. We engage with members and work to build coalitions on specific topics that are brought to our attention. OSA’s volunteers and professional staff provide testimony to lawmakers, and serve on advisory committees. OSA helps fund engineers and scientists in policymaking positions through the annual awards of U.S. Congressional fellowships. It recognizes policymakers through OSA’s annual Advocate of Optics Award. And, OSA disseminates information to members about key policy issues and events and relevant grant opportunities.
OIDA and OSA also support the advocacy conducted through its memberships and partnerships with coalitions such as the International Day of Light, World Science Day, U.S. Science and Engineering Festival, the U.S. National Photonics Initiative, Photonics21, and the International Photonic Advocacy Coalition (IPAC). And, OIDA provides advocacy support to other national photonics trade associations, local and regional photonics industry clusters, and OSA chapters and sections.