The U.S. Council on Competitiveness, a nonprofit organization representing the nation's top corporate chief executives, university presidents and labor leaders, today joined the Infotonics Technology Center Inc. and Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc. in naming the Rochester, New York Region as a "model innovation hot spot" for optics and announcing that Infotonics has what it takes to become a National Center for Photonics and Microsystems.
"With more than 50 leading optics companies, 55 percent of all optics degrees conferred in the U.S., and more than 150 years of experience in the optics industry, the Rochester Region is a clear leader in the field and a 'model innovation hot spot' for regions across the country looking to support their own core industries," said Deborah Wince-Smith, President of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness. "In addition, Rochester's Infotonics Technology Center is an outstanding example of what industry, academia and the public sector can accomplish when they work together to energize their regional economy, and in so doing, help secure America's place in the 21st century global economy."
"The Council on Competitiveness has reaffirmed what those of us in the Rochester, New York Region have long known — that Rochester is a leader in optics, imaging and photonics," said Michael A. Finney, President and CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise, an economic development organization dedicated to job creation in the Rochester area. "We're honored the Council has chosen to call attention to our region's efforts."
The announcement comes as more than 25 organizations and companies from the Rochester area prepare to attend Photonics West 2005, Jan. 22-27, in San Jose, California. The conference and trade show is the largest optics industry event in North America, attracting some 800 exhibitors and 13,000 attendees. Among those planning to attend are JML Optical Industries Inc., Optimax Systems Inc., QED Technologies Inc. and the University of Rochester Institute of Optics. The University and Greater Rochester Enterprise exhibits will be co-located in Booth No. 344.
In its recent National Innovation Initiative report, "Innovate America," co-chaired by Samuel Palmisano, CEO of IBM Corporation, and Dr. Wayne Clough, President of the Georgia Institute of Technology, and signed by some 20 top CEOs, the Council on Competitiveness warned the U.S. must "innovate or abdicate" if it is to lead and succeed in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. The 68-page report called on the federal government to make innovation a priority and invest in the creation of 10 national innovation hot spots over the next five years. San Jose/Silicon Valley, Greater Austin and Route 128/Boston are extraordinarily successful in stimulating entrepreneurship and commercializing innovations, the report states, but the federal government needs to do more and should join forces with states, regions, universities and private companies to create similar success stories elsewhere in the country.
Rochester's Infotonics Technology Center is one such success story. With $114 million in investment from Corning Inc., Eastman Kodak Co., Xerox Corp., New York State, the federal government and 20 universities — including Cornell University and the University of Rochester — Infotonics is a New York State Center of Excellence that is determined to become a National Center for Photonics and Microsystems.
"The Rochester Region is not just a part of the future of optics, it's at the forefront, and Infotonics is working to ensure it remains in the vanguard," said David R. Smith, CEO of the Infotonics Technology Center. "What SeMaTech did for semiconductors, Infotonics seeks to do for optics, photonics and microsystems. If you are an optics researcher or company and have a concept or product that needs fine-tuning, Infotonics is ready, willing, able — and eager — to work with you."
Infotonics works with numerous regional, national and international companies. Among them are:
Optimax Systems, a precision optics and rapid prototyping firm based in the Rochester area. Optimax is a supplier to many, including the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Boeing. The company created the lenses used by the Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, to beam back images to Earth.
MediPhotonics Development Co. LLC, a New York subsidiary of New Jersey-based Mediscience Technology Corp. Infotonics and MediPhotonics signed an agreement last September to jointly develop the Compact Photonic Explorer (CPE), or "pill camera," for medical applications. The partnership seeks to create an ingestible photonic pill that would enable physicians to detect early stage cancer of the complete auto-digestive tract.
Rochester-based Integrated Nano-Technologies, which worked with Infotonics to jointly develop microchips for its DNA detection system, BioDetect, for use in the biosecurity and clinical diagnostics markets.
Infotonics expects to create up to 5,000 jobs in the Rochester, New York area by 2012 and continues to add university and private-sector partners on a consistent basis. The center was recently highlighted by BusinessWeek as a "mini-Silicon Valley" in a piece on the Council on Competitiveness report.
"Rochester has an outstanding record of innovation that we intend to carry on for a long time to come," GRE's Finney said. "We're first in the nation in patents per capita; we're fifth for overall innovation capacity; and we rank among the top 10 in the world for knowledge competitiveness. Clearly, we must be doing something right and we're proud that the Council on Competitiveness recognizes that."
The Council on Competitiveness has already begun reaching out to Congressional and White House leaders to ensure that the NII report's recommendations are aggressively pursued and implemented.
"This report is too important to sit on a shelf and collect dust," the Council's Wince-Smith said. "We are thrilled leaders in Rochester recognize that and look forward to working with leaders across the U.S. to ensure that America continues to innovate — not abdicate — in the 21st century."
To read the entire NII report from the Council on Competitiveness, please go to www.compete.org.
For additional information contact:
Bill Booher, Senior Advisor, Public Affairs
U.S. Council on Competitiveness
Ron Roberts, PR Manager (Infotonics)